Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask confirmed what everybody pretty much already knew postgame when he admitted he may need surgery for whatever was bugging him physically during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The 33-year-old Rask said he wouldn’t go into specifics after the 6-2 loss in Game 6 that eliminated the Boston Bruins from the playoffs, but the suspicion is that hip and back issues plagued him throughout this season. Whatever it was, it clearly affected him in his second round series against the Islanders as he finished with an .897 save percentage against the Isles and appeared to have difficulty with explosive movements in the crease as the Bruins were losing three games in a row.
“I could have made a couple more saves, definitely. Didn’t do it today,” said Rask, who allowed four goals in three of the six games he played in the series including the deciding Game 6. “The season ended. I battled. I tried. Just fell short.”
The Boston Bruins goaltender said we would fully disclose his injuries after taking his exit meetings with the Bruins in the next couple of days and didn’t want to take the attention away from a team whose season had just come to a conclusion.
It seems pretty clear at this point it was Rask’s call as to whether he was physically able to go in these playoff games. Maybe that shouldn’t have been the case as many, this humble hockey writer included, wondered if a 100 percent healthy Jeremy Swayman would have been a better option in the pipes with Boston’s back up against the wall vs. the Islanders.
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that the injury that cost him a month of time during the regular season in March and April was the same issue dogging Rask as the workload piled up in the postseason.
“He wasn’t 100%. I can’t answer if he was 95% or 92%. We talk to him on a daily basis. He was ready to go,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We gave him time to heal in the middle of the year, and we would have given him time to heal in the playoffs if that was necessary. He’s our starting goalie, he told us he was ready to go, and that’s that.
“There may be surgery. There may not. That’ll be his decision and the medical staff’s decision. “Of course, he could have been better. As I alluded to earlier, there are some rebounds that we could have cleared or controlled better. But we mismanaged some pucks and put them in bad spots as well.”
Whether it was holding attackers up at the goal line, explosively moving post-to-post or aggressively attacking shooters, Rask didn’t have any of it going while playing through his nagging issues against the Islanders.
It will be interesting to see what awaits Rask in the immediate future as his contract is up with the Black and Gold, and he may be facing surgery while mulling his future with the team as the winningest regular season goalie in Boston Bruins history.