First let me say that in the Rask vs Thomas war, I’m a Bruins fan first, a fan of great hockey, and then a fan of one of the goalies. That said, if Thomas doesn’t start the next game Julien should be looking for a new job in a month. Before we get into stats, just rewind the game in your head and look at Rask’s positioning, posture and form. Tonight, Rask looked like he was trying to play Thomas’s style. This is unfortunately a style he is not a good match for. One of the things I noticed early was that he was playing very deep in the net for most of the first two periods. Second, he left his feet and was lying belly down on the ice more than once. He is not fit to do that and spring back onto his feet. It’s not his style, therefore the muscle groups are not trained and strengthened towards doing that. Next, between plays instead of his normal skating-saunter around the crease and occasionally to the corner with his water bottle, he was hunched over hands on knees and head down. When he did go down, in particular on the goal where Wideman’s stick broke leading to a rush he did not square his shoulders and game up several additional inches on either side of his frame by failing to do so. He also made a rather uncharacteristic and ineffectual attempt at a poke check. This is not a part of his normal tool kit, and like handling the puck outside the crease it is not a strength of his game. The posture, the break down in form and the uncharacteristic play speak quiet strongly, what they say is that Philly has gotten into his head and now have him off his game. The Flyers unlike a lot of teams are happy to crash the crease and be physical with their opponents goaltender. Some goaltenders will meet this with aggression of their own thus allowing them to reclaim some of their space, others retreat. When Thomas gave up the goal to the Flyers during the Winter Classic, it was because he refused to let them stomp about in his crease with impunity. When Rask is crashed and poked he waits for a whistle and skates to a corner. Thomas played the Flyers twice this season, and faced a total of 63 shots, on which he game up three goals. In the last two games Rask has faced 56 shots and given up nine goals. This is a team that has his number, as some teams can simply dominate a particular goalie. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, its simply what happens when talent, observation and opportunity align. It should be recognized by the coaches and looked at like any other decision, just as baseball teams will opt to load up on right or left handed batters or go to the bullpen for someone with a good breaking ball over an equally good slider. The worrisome thing about Rask in goal is that even at his young age, he has set a trend for himself in post season vs. regular season performances. In his three professional seasons, two in the AHL, one in the NHL his post season numbers are significantly worse than his regular season numbers. Some might say his numbers were so good this year that he couldn’t help but be slightly worse in the playoffs. That’s debatable, Thomas finished last years season with the best GAA and SV% in the NHL, after 11 games both of those numbers improved. Rask has now played 11 games this post season, against two teams whose combined regular season goal total is lower than the two teams Thomas faced last year. Carolina and Montreal combined for 478 regular season goals in 08-09, Buffalo and Philedelphia combined for 458 goals in the 82 game season. In fact Thomas’s last three regular season numbers are all marginally worse than his post season numbers. To put it in the simplest terms, the Bruins had the wrong goalie in net today, and its not surprising the Flyers have managed to get their nose back into this series.


About Puck Sage

PuckSage.com is a hockey site focusing on the NHL, the playing style of teams and players with analysis and the occasional predictions. If it doesn't involve what happens on ice, I won't be writing about it. About Me: Writer! Here. write hockey. I can be found on Twitter @PuckSage on Google+ and my Facebook Page is handily listed on the main page here. Radio Personality: Guest Hockey expert on WATD 95.9FM Hockey lover, cognac drinker, lover of good steak, good music, and things that make me laugh. I hate cats, cat people, sloppy hockey and vegans.

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