After a playoff loss, pretty much everything gets blown out of proportion.
It doesn't matter that the loss was a tight, one-goal game played without your best offensive weapon.
No, a loss is chaos, and chaos means hot takes.
The target for the hot takes after last night's game was, of course, Tuukka Rask, who is always the target, unless it's a 50-save shutout.
Rask has been OK in the first two games of the series. Not great, not horrible, not stealing games, not giving them away.
Some great saves, some questionable misses. You know, normal stuff.
You'd like a bit more than normal stuff from your #1 goalie, and hopefully he can provide that going forward.
However, the current online furor over Rask's postgame comments on playoff atmosphere are completely insane.
In case you missed it, Rask mentioned it during the postgame media briefing:
To be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey because there’s no fans. It’s kind of like you’re playing an exhibition game. Obviously, there are some scrums after the whistle. I haven’t noticed that they would be targeting me or what not. Things happen, people falling on you and what not. But it’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere.
When asked a follow-up question about the general atmosphere surrounding the games, he elaborated:
You’re trying to play as hard as you can. Obviously, you’re playing a best of seven series so there’s going to be some battles going on and what not. But when you play at your home rink, you play at an away rink, and there’s fans cheering for you or against you and that creates another buzz around the series. There’s none of that, so it just feels dull at times. There’re moments that...there’s little scrums and what not. But then there might be five minutes and its just coast to coast hockey and there is no atmosphere. It just feels like an exhibition game.
Interestingly, these are the comments people have seized on, criticizing Rask for having the nerve to say these bizarro world games don't feel like playoff games.
You can hear his actual words below:
Here are Tuukka Rask's full comments on the atmosphere up in Toronto: pic.twitter.com/5qQU4BDA3N— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) August 14, 2020
Seriously, who cares? Any player who tells you these games feel like the same ol' playoff games is lying, both to you and to himself.
The quality of hockey can be playoff quality, but there is absolutely no way that a game during a pandemic in an empty arena in Canada feels the same as a game in May in a packed TD Garden.
While many of the anti-Rask crowd have seized on these comments as a sin against the sport of hockey, he did make a few comments on his general health right now that could raise eyebrows:
Considering I had four months off, not in prime shape, but trying to get there. I’m just trying to have fun and play the game. I’m not expecting too much about results and what not. It’s August and I haven’t played hockey in forever. Just go out there and have fun and see what happens.
Obviously people will seize on that middle line about "not expecting too much about results," and yeah, it's certainly not the best line of all time.
But it also doesn't really mean anything, other than Rask acknowledging what most players would acknowledge if they were being honest: that while they've tried, they're still not exactly in midseason form.
Rask has always been one of the more blunt, honest members of the Bruins, whether talking about his own performance, the team's performance in front of him, or stuff like this.
It sometimes rubs people the wrong way, but it's a stretch to take any of the comments above and read them as "see, he isn't even trying," especially when he referenced trying to play as hard as you can in a previous comment.
Of course, that's the way many people are taking the comments, but that's always the case with Rask: everything gets blown out of proportion.
To suggest that Jaroslav Halak should start tomorrow just because of the way Rask answered a postgame question is silly (though I'd argue it wouldn't have been a bad idea to give Halak the start in Game 2, just based on the turnaround).
I suspect much of this is social media furor and the lack of anything better to talk about, which is understandable.
But if quite literally any other player on the team had made the exact same comments, no one would care.
As has been the case with Rask for a decade now, you've already made up your mind.