Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask has allowed 12 goals in his last three starts, but Coach Bruce Cassidy is remaining patient and Rask works his way back from hip surgery. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The Bruins have allowed the first goal in each of the last four games.

Those early deficits led to a blowout loss (Carolina), an all-game chase before finally losing (Anaheim) and bounce-back wins (Washington, Winnipeg).
Different results yes, but still not a recipe for long-term success.

But if any team could scare the team out of its recent habit of tip-toeing into games – or at least should – is Wednesday’s opponent when the Bruins kick off a three-game western swing against the hottest team in the league, the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs – with a dizzying array of weapons from Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen up front to big-time punch on the back end with Cale Makar and Devon Toews – the Avs are 12-0-1 in their last 13 games and have won 16 straight at Ball Arena.

It’s a daunting task, but maybe it will be good for the Bruins to once again play the role of hunter instead of the hunted.

“I would hope so,” said Coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team has a 10-5-1 road record. “They’re a high-octane team that’s won 16 in a row at home, playing well, a team that has played well for years.


“We’ve had some good road games recently, we’ve had a long stretch at home, but we played well in Washington, played well in Tampa, played well in Detroit. Hopefully that continues, our ability to win both in Boston and on the road.”

It would help the Bruins if their goaltending gets straightened out. While Linus Ullmark – Wednesday’s scheduled starter – has not been immune to the odd soft goal, Tuukka Rask is of greater concern right now. As he said after the 5-3 loss to Anaheim on Monday, he’s not tracking the puck well and his depth has been off. After a strong first game back in an emotional win over Philadelphia, he’s allowed 12 goals in his last three starts.

But Cassidy, knowing full well what Rask can do for a team when he’s in form, is determined to get him the playing time he needs to get his game up to snuff. For now, at least.

“We made a decision as a group when Tuukka came back. Obviously in hindsight that time in Providence when the schedule got canceled worked against him. Only he can answer that,” said Cassidy, referring to the canceled rehab starts Rask was going to have in the AHL. “Any player at any level, it’s going to take a little time.”

Cassidy pointed out that both Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman – for whom Garden fans were chanting on Monday as Rask struggled – took a while to get their games up and running this year. The same thing is happening with Rask right now, he feels.

“Listen, Tuukka’s not some guy off the street that’s never played. He’s got a resume in this league that’s an extremely good one,” said Cassidy. “We know he’ll find his game and we have to give him the opportunity to do it.”


BRAD MARCHAND, after warmups last Thursday, gave a young fan a treat. As he was going through the fans’ fist bump gauntlet at the tunnel, he spotted a fan filming with his phone. Marchand playfully grabbed the phone, continued down the tunnel while recording a message before bringing it back to the kid.

Marchand said he remembers as a kid when the Bruins played an exhibition in his hometown of Halifax and how excited he was to be that kid getting a closeup look at real NHL players. He also remembers a conversation he had at a charity dinner with Hall of Famer Ray Bourque when he was 19.

“I’ll never forget what he said to me and I come back to it a lot,” said Marchand. “He’s said it’s very easy when you have a longer career and you get comfortable in the league or with an organization to forget how fortunate we are to be in the position we’re in, to be living our dreams and living other people’s dreams. You take it for granted at times.’ … That’s coming from one of the best players to ever play the game. When he talks like that, it hits home. Good advice to learn at a young age.”

NOTES: Matt Grzelcyk, who missed Monday’s game, returned to practice on Tuesday and traveled with the team. Nick Foligno, who suffered an upper-body injury in Monday’s loss, did not practice on Tuesday and did not travel with the team. John Moore, who was a full participant in practice, was returned to Providence. … Anton Blidh,out since taking a big Tom Wilson hit last Thursday, practiced fully and traveled. … Trent Frederic, out since Jan. 10 since suffering an upper-body injury, remained off the ice.

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