BRIGHTON, Mass – Not to sound any alarm bells or warnings, but it sure sounds like the Boston Bruins aren’t expecting to see ailing No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask anytime soon.
Rask was missing from Monday’s optional Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena as Dan Vladar and Callum Booth took the practice ice after Jaroslav Halak was the losing netminder in a 1-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.
“Tuukka wasn’t on the ice today, so he won’t play tomorrow,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll look at our week here with [Vladar] versus [Jaro], but both goalies were very good this weekend. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was at the other end finishing off plays. As Tuukka gets back into practice we’ll determine when his next game is going to be.
“My guess would be closer to later in the week, but until he’s back practicing, we don’t know. We tried to speculate before on that when we didn’t think there was much going on, but it was obviously a more serious injury than we first anticipated. So, there’s no use going down that road until he’s had a full practice and a certain amount of work. I suspect it will [Vladar] and Halak for this week.”
The 23-year-old Vladar is 2-0-0 with 1.50 goals against average and a .952 save percentage in two starts since Rask was injured, and Halak is 3-3-2 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in March while shouldering the bulk of the goaltending load.
Rask appeared to initially injure his back in the latter moments of a March 7 shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils after colliding with Miles Wood in his crease. The injury was apparent when he had major difficult getting off the ice for the extra skater at the end of the game.
Heres Tuukka Rask leaving the ice for the extra attacker late in the 3rd period. Appeared to be shaken up after a collision with Miles Wood a few minutes prior. Doesn’t look great pic.twitter.com/RcaBeBuQwu
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) March 8, 2021
Then Rask attempted to return last week against the Islanders, and lasted a single period making six saves before leaving with a recurrence of the same issue that had bothered the 34-year-old Boston Bruins goalie previously.
Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Kevan Miller (knee) were both practicing and taking some contact at Monday’s practice as they progress from their injuries, but it sounded like Carlo was a little closer to a return than Miller at this point. Sean Kuraly (along with Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand as of early Monday afternoon) is still in the NHL’s COVID Protocol at this point, but he’s hit a stage where he’s allowed to skate and practice at the B’s practice facility by himself.
The bottom line: It sounds like Brandon Carlo might be the only player with a chance at returning for Tuesday night’s game as the Bruins battle against both injuries and COVID Protocol.