BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In another body blow to the playoff chances for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will be out tonight with what the B’s are calling a “lower body injury” for their must-win game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Rask came to the Bruins practice facility on Friday and got treatment on his lower body, but determined “he wouldn’t able to go” in Boston’s biggest game so far this season. Instead, backup Anton Khudobin will get the nod against the Isles. His last start was 10 days ago against the Calgary Flames, but he's a goalie who's also riding a four-game winning streak headed into a mega-important game for the Black and Gold, who have lost four in a row to damage their playoff hopes.
“He came in [on Friday] with some discomfort in the lower body, so he had some work done and didn’t feel like he’d be ready to go today,” said Cassidy of Rask after the Saturday morning skate in Brooklyn. “We had talked about getting Anton [Khudobin] in any way, and that was part of it. Those plans are always subject to change.
“So there’s no real surprise in that area, but we’re monitoring it really closely. We expect that he’ll be able to practice on Monday.”
VIDEO: Bruce Cassidy talks about Tuukka Rask being unable to go vs New York Islanders in a must-win game for Boston BruinsPosted by Joe Haggerty on Saturday, March 25, 2017
There was no sign of injury for Rask in the 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thurday night, in which he gave up five goals and looked shaky in the second and third period. Cassidy confirmed that Rask's equipment issue with his skate in the Lightning game had nothing to do with the injury. Rask was soft-voiced and trailed off in a couple of his answers while taking his share of responsibility following the Tampa loss and certainly seemed uncharacteristically downcast after that particular defeat.
Rask’s surprise absence has a lot of parallels and a bit of the same feeling to the Bruins goaltender also being unable to play in last year’s regular season do-or-die finale where the Bruins dropped a brutal, pathetic 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators to knock them out of the playoff race.
One always wants to give a player the benefit of the doubt when an injury is involved, but one can’t escape the feeling that Boston’s No. 1 goalie should be able to play on Saturday in a must-win game, with so much on the line, if he’s expected to be healthy enough to practice a couple of days from now.
The Islanders and Bruins each have 82 points but the Bruins sit out of the playoff picture, in the ninth spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference, heading into tonight's showdown.
Rookie Zane McIntyre has been called up on emergency recall to serve as Khudobin's backup vs. the Islanders.