Admittedly still recovering from playing 97 games since the start of the 2018-19 regular season and 51 games since the start of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will not play in the 2020 NHL All-Star game.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen, obviously, and these decisions are tough,” Rask told the media just prior to the Bruins’ game against the Flyers in Philadelphia Monday night. “For me, I had to be kind of selfish thinking how much hockey we played last year, the short summer, and thinking about playing until June again.”
On Monday afternoon, the NHL’s Public Relations Twitter handle announced that Rask won’t participate in the game and weekend festivities January 24-25 in St. Louis. He will be replaced by Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who will now be coached by Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and captained by Bruins winger David Pastrnak on the Atlantic Division team.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 13, 2020
Rask is coming off a brilliant 35-save performance in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders Saturday night and is now 17-4-0-6 with a 2.27 GAA and .925 save percentage and two shutouts. Part of the reason for the strong first half Rask has had, as well as the amazing run he had in the playoffs last spring, is the fact that the Bruins are all for Rask getting rest whenever he and the team can afford it. With a backup that could be a starter on more than a handful of NHL teams right now in Jaro Halak this and last season, the Bruins have been able to successfully manage Rask’s workload and contend for the Cup. That’s why it’s no surprise that the team was completely on board with Rask skipping the All-Star weekend to clear his head and rest when he approached them about it.
“They were fine with it,” Rask said of their decision. “I gave them a heads up. I talked to [goalie coach Bob Essensa] even way before the break if there’s a possibility that I’m going [to the All-Star Game] that it may be more beneficial for me to sit somewhere else and take the break. They were supportive, very supportive.”
Rask will face a one-game suspension following the All-Star weekend. What game that will be will be determined. As he pointed out though, a game in the next few weeks is a lot better than multiple games when it counts. More importantly, he can spend the time with his family that he hardly ever has and will have less of down the stretch run and into the playoffs.
“[With] this game falling right in the middle of our bye week, [I] wouldn’t be able to do anything with the family,” Rask said. “It was kind of a selfish decision to spend time with the family and go away and get your mind and body rejuvenated and be ready for the last couple, busy months of the season.”