Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced Sunday that goaltender Tuukka Rask will not dress for the round-robin opener against the Philadelphia Flyers in Toronto at 3 PM ET. Jaroslav Halak will get the start with rookie Dan Vladar as his backup.
Rask missed practice Saturday, and was ruled questionable for Sunday and was deemed “unfit to play”, but is feeling better, according to Cassidy. The net-minder has been dealing with a fractured finger throughout training camp, but did start for the Bruins in their 4-1 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Rask made 17 saves on 20 shots in 25:30 before being Halak took over.
“He wasn’t feeling well, so unfit to participate today,” Cassidy said Saturday. “As an afternoon question Saturday, the natural next question is ‘will he start?’ I’ll have to talk to Tuukka later and see where he’s at. If [Rask can’t play] then Jaro [Halak] will be ready to go.”
Rask’s status for Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is unknown, but Cassidy is hopeful that Rask will be back for tomorrow’s practice. Rask and the Bruins have repeatedly expressed how comfortable they would be if a situation like this arose. Rask and Halak (18-6-6, 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage) won the William Jennings Trophy as the best goaltending tandem in the NHL this season. There is no doubt in their minds that the 35-year-old – who has had some playoff success himself – that Halak can handle the playoff load if needed. In fact, Rask suggested that him and Halak would split the duties between the pipes in the playoffs even Rask was healthy.
“We’ve had the luxury of me sharing the net with Jaro [Halak] the last couple of years and it’s worked out great for us,” the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner said. “As far as the playoffs are concerned, you never know. You lay off for four months and then you right into playoff hockey, there might be some injuries and some nagging injuries that might happen, your groin or hips.
I’d be surprised if you see goalies play every minute of every game during these playoffs because the situation is so different. But I’m looking forward to it. You never know but I guess we’ll see what happens. We’ve had the luxury of having two very good goalies the last few seasons, so I think we’re in a good spot.”
Rask was 26-8-6 with a 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage. He was named a Vezina Trophy finalist for the second time in his career last month. He won the trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL for the 2013-14 season.
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