Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask stunned the public but perhaps not the Boston Bruins on Saturday when the Bruins goalie left the NHL bubble in Toronto and left his team during their Round One series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Bruins GM Don Sweeney not only said the team supported the decision, but the team was aware of more details than have been made public. Sweeney referenced Rask’s family, which includes two young daughters and a newborn.
“We knew this would be a mental challenge, especially players with families,” Sweeney said. “In Tuukka’s case, he has a newborn at home with two other young girls, and he just felt that he needs to be home with them at this particular time.”
Rask has been inconsistent in the NHL postseason and even criticized the feel of the NHL playoffs without fans. Sweeney’s words perhaps offer a slight hint to Rask’s state of mind.
Tuukka Rask started the first four Bruins postseason games, including two of three round-robin games. Rask was 1-3 with a paltry .904 save percentage.
“…it’s been increasingly more and more difficult for Tuukka to mentally stay where he needs to be and ultimately made a decision that he felt he had to be in a different place,” said Sweeney. And again, yeah, I think we all understand that these are trying times for everybody. The NHL’s done a fabulous job in protecting the players’ health and safety but the priority for Tuukka at this point in time rightfully so has to be his family and we support that.”
Bruins 1A goalie Jaroslav Halak took over the Boston Bruins net in Game 3 against Carolina on Saturday. This season, Halak was 18-6-6 with a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage. In his career, Halak does have a reputation as a playoff goalie. He backstopped the 2010 Montreal Canadiens improbable run to the Eastern Conference Final by beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and powerhouse Washington Capitals.
Halak has started 29 playoff games in his career. He’s posted a respectable .922 save percentage with a 2.45 GAA, but just a 13-16 record.
“Fortunately, his family is safe and healthy, but with a newborn and two other young girls, you know it’s been challenging and for Tuukka as well,” Sweeney concluded. “I think that again, nothing specific, we’re fortunate that his family is all healthy, and they’re going to have their dad back to be around on a regular basis is exactly what Tuukka needs to do at this point in time.”