Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy responded to goalie Tuukka Rask’s controversial comments following a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of their first round playoff series. Rask took the hockey world by surprise when he bluntly said that Stanley Cup playoff hockey in the NHL ‘doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey.’
“Well to be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there,” Rask said. “There’s no fans, so it’s [like] an exhibition game. … It’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there.”
Cassidy said he was unable to speak to Rask following those comments to the media in a Zoom call late Thursday night but was blunt in offering his assessment of Rask’s feelings and the situation not just Rask is in but rather his and every NHL team.
“I didn’t speak to him after his comments. Tuukka, I think the Boston media knows him well enough — he answers his questions the way he feels,” Cassidy said. “It is a unique environment, but to me, there’s playoff intensity on the ice. You’ve just gotta control what you can control when you’re a player. In my situation, as a coach, the way I look at it, at the end of the day, they’re gonna hand out the Stanley Cup this year.
So we’ve gotta play our best hockey if we want to be that team. That was our goal at the start of the year. We didn’t anticipate it would end up in an environment like this, but here it is, right? You play the hand you’re dealt, and you prepare yourself — and in my case prepare the team — in this case, for Game 3, to play our best hockey game and that’s what my focus is on right now, plain and simple. That’s what we’re gonna do tonight and puck drop tomorrow at noon, we’re gonna put our best foot forward.”
Captain Zdeno Chara also gave his reaction to Rask’s comments and basically echoed Cassidy’s sentiments.
“I think we all have to realize it’s an adjustment,” the Bruins captain said. “It’s something completely new and none of us have ever experienced this. First of all Tuukka has his rights to express his kind of views and opinions. I don’t think he meant anything bad about it. He was just kind of being honest. It does feel a little bit different from other playoff experiences we’ve had, all of us have had in the playoffs with the fans and emotions. I think we just continue, going forward, making these adjustments and feeling more comfortable with the environment we are playing in right now.”
Rask, who Cassidy said he ‘anticipates will start’ in Game 3 against the Hurricanes Saturday at noon, has started the last four straight games for the Bruins since the round-robin began on August 2. Rask was ‘unfit to play’ and Jaro Halak started and finished that 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Dating back to August 5 and the Bruins second round-robin game, a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rask is 1-3-0 with a 2.57 GAA and .904 save percentage. He made 25 saves in a 4-3 double overtime win over the Hurricanes in Game 1 and stopped 23 of 25 in Game 2.