The Boston Bruins placed Tuukka Rask on IR with what the club is calling an upper-body injury. Most believe that Rask, injured when he took an elbow to the head on Tuesday, is dealing with a concussion. With just three games prior to the All-Star break when placed on IR, the assumption was that Rask will be out through the end of the month.
If that is indeed the case, then goalie Jaroslav Halak will need to step up. In his first start with Rask on IR, Halak was beaten cleanly on the first shot of the game. Sidney Crosby ripped a shot past the veteran just 24 seconds into the contest on Thursday. Like his teammates, however, Halak would settle in and perform nicely in a 4-1 victory over the Penguins.
Without Halak, the Bruins do not win Thursday night. His biggest moment came while on the powerplay in the final seconds of the middle frame. That’s where Halak would make four key saves to keep the Bruins ahead 2-1 through forty minutes.
“I thought it was a difference-maker in the game,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told the media postgame. “They could have went into the period with a tie thinking, and we’re sitting there, when you get scored on on the power play — especially ours, it has a tendency to be good lately. Our top group is fighting it a little bit lately so we’ll have to address that, but, a little bit self-inflicted so that hurts even more.”
Halak impressed his coach by bailing out his teammates. The entire sequence started when the Bruins committed a sloppy turnover that led to a two-on-none. With Halak making save after save, his teammates continually struggled to clear the puck and relieve the pressure.
“It’s one thing for a team to do something well, but we turned down a couple opportunities to shoot at the other end.,” Cassidy lamented. “Then you whiff on a few pucks, and all of a sudden they’re on a 2-on-0. So that was huge for us, I thought that was a real turning point in the game.
“Good for Jaro [Jaroslav Halak], I thought he really battled hard. Six-on-five at the end to keep the puck out of the net, there was a couple situations in front of our net that he hung in there and did a real nice job for us.”
The Bruins will need Halak to do a good job moving forward with Rask on the shelf. One game in, Halak looks very much like he is up to the task.