Will Boston Bruins rookie goaltender Dan Vladar make his NHL debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 on Wednesday?
Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t asked that in a media Zoom call Tuesday afternoon but on Monday, Cassidy told reporters that he likely wouldn’t make the decision to start Jaro Halak in a back-to-back or Vladar until Wednesday morning.
“I think it’ll be a decision we probably make Wednesday morning after we sort through the game on Tuesday and see where Jaro is at physically,” Cassidy said Monday. “And have Danny prepared Tuesday night, just say hey you got to prepare like you’re going in the net and if it doesn’t happen well we don’t lose nothing in that regard.”
Halak will start in net for the Boston Bruins Tuesday night in Game 2 (7 PM ET) as the Bruins look to take a 2-0 series lead and Halak (4-1, 2.23 GAA, .931 %), tries to extend his and the team’s win streak to five games. With Game 3 being the tail end of a back-to-back though, and the Bruins set on Halak as their starter for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins know they need to be wary of over-taxing Halak. The 35-year-old netminder was huge in the Bruins’ 3-2 win in Game 1, stopping all 18 Lightning shots in the second period and finishing with 35 saves.
“Too early to tell,” Cassidy went on. “[Game 3] was a busy night for Jaro, I thought, as it went on. He responded well. Took the day off the ice [Monday], so that will help him recover.”
Halak took over the reins when Rask opted out of the NHL bubble and playoffs prior to Game 3 of the opening round series against the Carolina Hurricanes that the Bruins won in five games. Halak has been stellar between the pipes and has not lost since. If he can extend his and the team’s win streak to five games to put the Bruins up 2-0 Tuesday night, Cassidy might feel a bit more comfortable turning to the rookie Vladar, whom the Bruins drafted in the third round (75th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
“Let’s get through the game [Tuesday] night,” continued Cassidy. “It might also be a situation of where [we are] in the series. Sometimes you’ve got to look at your lineup and say, ‘OK, do we have the luxury of making any changes? How will it affect us? How will it affect the group, throwing another guy in there?’ I think our guys play hard no matter who’s in there.”
Vladar was 14-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and .936 save percentage. The Bruins signed Vladar to a three-year extension ($750,000 annual cap hit) during the first intermission of Game 1.