By his admission, Tuukka Rask isn’t in Martin Brodeur’s class when it comes to playing the puck. Neither is Tim Thomas.
That’s why, when Rask or Thomas leaves the crease to track down the puck, they have to give the maneuver their full attention to execute it properly.
“A lot of times, especially me and him, we’re not the best puck-handlers in the league,’’ Rask said. “We have to focus on the puck not bouncing that much. We’re trying to make the right play. A lot of times, you’re focused on that puck so much that you can’t see people coming at you.’’
Rask was involved in several collisions in his AHL days. He recalled that in those situations, he had time to brace himself against incoming bodies. But the dangerous hits occur when goalies don’t expect them.
That’s why goaltenders, like NFL quarterbacks, are subject to violent collisions. Sometimes they don’t see the hit coming. Moreover, the league’s culture dictates that goalies, for the most part, are off-limits.
On Saturday, Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller learned he was very much in play when Bruins forward Milan Lucic bowled him over en route to a loose puck. Miller was diagnosed with a concussion and Lucic was tagged with charging.
On Monday, following a phone call with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, Lucic was not suspended. Prior to Shanahan’s ruling, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff predicted that if there weren’t a suspension, goalies would be subject to more clock-cleaning hits.
“It just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did,’’ Ruff told the Buffalo News. “Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.
“That’s essentially what that means. You can concuss the other team’s goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it’s fair game on goaltenders.’’
Before last night’s game against New Jersey, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Ruff’s comments were made out of frustration.
“That’s just talk,’’ Julien said. “We’re certainly not going to get into that. People get frustrated. People talk. You don’t hold those kinds of things against people like that. They’re entitled to their opinion. You just move along here. We can’t react to everything that’s being said out there.’’
Lucic was penalized under Rule 42.1, which governs charging. It notes that goaltenders are not fair game when they leave the crease. Julien agreed with the rule because of the protection it gives goalies.
“I don’t think they should be hit, absolutely not,’’ Julien said. “But there’s a difference between a hit and a collision. That’s always going to be a gray area in people’s minds. Some people are going to call it a hit. Some people are going to call it a collision.
“As far as I’m concerned as a coach, I’ll abide by any rule they want to put in there. If they say you can’t touch him at all, you can’t touch him at all. If they keep the rule the way it is, let’s keep the rule the way it is.
“I know for a fact if Milan had intended on hitting him, he would have never got up. We know how hard he hits. That speaks for itself.’’
During yesterday’s general managers’ meetings in Toronto, Peter Chiarelli revealed the majority of his counterparts believed Lucic’s hit was worthy of a suspension. Chiarelli explained that most GMs believed Lucic should have been tagged with a five-minute major, then suspended because of an intent to injure. The GMs concurred that goaltenders are not fair game.
“There certainly isn’t an open season on goaltenders,’’ Chiarelli said. “That’s ridiculous.’’
Ference skates alone
Prior to yesterday’s morning skate at TD Garden, Andrew Ference (lower body) hit the ice for a solo twirl. He missed his second straight game last night but could practice today or Friday. It’s unlikely that Ference will play tomorrow against Columbus. Steven Kampfer made his second straight appearance last night in Ference’s place.
Praise for Hamill
Benoit Pouliot, a healthy scratch against Buffalo, was in last night’s lineup. Pouliot was Boston’s No. 3 left wing, the position occupied by Zach Hamill Saturday. The Bruins assigned Hamill to Providence Sunday. “I felt real good about the way he played here,’’ Julien said. “I expressed that to [Chiarelli] and everybody else. I had absolutely no issues with Zach’s play. He stepped in there and did a great job. In his first game, he made a great pass on a goal. He also got himself involved, created some opportunities on power plays, stood up for himself in front of our bench. Overall, he was a real smart player. I really liked him. It really makes you, as a coach, feel good about the depth you have in the minors. Because I would have no hesitation about bringing him back in a heartbeat.’’ . . . Another popular topic during the GM meetings was Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1 trap and Philadelphia’s stalling tactics last week. “I think you’re going to have to see a pattern,’’ Chiarelli said when asked about rules changes to address the issue. “Every team in the league has a passive neutral-zone forecheck. Every single team. It doesn’t mean you use it all the time. The one comment I made was that in our Tampa [playoff] series, they pushed the puck like no other team. We had a high-tempo series and they used a 1-3-1. You can use prevent defenses. That’s part of the game. I just think when you see it happen the way it did the other night, it just didn’t look good. Especially on national TV.’’ . . . Tyler Seguin had his four-game goal-scoring streak snapped last night, getting just one shot in 16:26 of ice time. He is two goals behind league leader Phil Kessel (13). “Are we surprised he’s where he is in the league scoring? Absolutely. I think it’s a great, great surprise for us,’’ Julien said. “But did we ever think he would get there? Absolutely. We just didn’t know when.’’ . . . Patrice Bergeron won 24 of 33 faceoffs (73 percent) . . . Daniel Paille (nose) sat out his third straight game.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.