Tuukka Rask said he isn’t concerned about the two losses the Boston Bruins have in their first two games in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, at least not in terms of where it’ll place them in the Eastern Conference seeding.
With the two regulation losses, including 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Bruins, who had the best record in the NHL this regular season, are guaranteed to finish no higher than the No. 3 seed in the East for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I really don’t care where we finish,” Rask said. “We just have to focus on our game and try to improve that come Sunday and going into next week. You’ve got to beat everybody anyway, so whatever.”
The top four seeds are being determined by points earned in the round-robin, with regular-season points percentage the tiebreaker. The Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with a .714 points percentage (the only team above .662), will be the No. 4 seed if the Washington Capitals defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime or a shootout Thursday.
“This is one year I do believe the seeding is less relevant than others,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think everyone’s discussed that. Would I have rather been No. 1 seed, absolutely, keep it. That’s not going to happen. Like I said, get ready for Washington, play the best game we can.
“Prepare for the postseason. That’s our ultimate goal. We’ve got to win 16 games. We knew that going in. That’ll still be our goal.”
The Bruins’ final round-robin game is Sunday against the Capitals in Toronto, the hub city for the East.
Rask said he is far more concerned with how he and his team are playing, and the goalie saw improvements on Wednesday, especially in terms of where his game is.
“If you want to make a run in the playoffs, you have to beat every team anyway,” Rask said. “The situation is what it is. I think the worst case that’s going to happen is we’re going to lose the locker room in our practice rink, so that’s about it.”
The Bruins lost 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, when Rask was out ruled unfit to play. Boston also lost its exhibition game to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1, on Thursday.
Cassidy was frustrated by the position the Bruins put themselves in, given the losses.
“Well, that part [stinks],” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you. But that’s the situation this year with the stoppage of play. We knew the rules going into it that we would lose a bit of the advantage we gained. So we are where we are now. We’re just trying to win a hockey game right now, get our game together for 60 minutes so that we can be at our best so whoever we meet.”