Rask poised to return for Bruins tonight in Detroit

Rask poised to return for Bruins tonight in Detroit

It looks like the brief goaltending nightmare is over for the Bruins.

At least they hope so with reports out of Detroit indicating that Tuukka Rask is poised to return between pipes on Saturday night for the Bruins against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Zane McIntyre stayed on the ice with the players not expected to suit up for the game against Detroit. That indicates he’ll be the backup to Rask.

Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated on Saturday that one of the rookie goaltenders would be sent back to Providence ahead of this three-game trip. Later in the day, the B's assigned Malcolm Subban to the AHL team after his disastrous outing vs. the Minnesota Wild earlier this week.

Rask indicated after his first full practice on Friday that he wasn’t quite 100 percent, but he also wasn’t worried about further worsening his injury by playing through it.

“That’s the thing we’re talking about, and we talked about last week. How should we proceed? It feels good now that I can comfortably practice,” said Rask. “It’s one of those things where it felt good in Winnipeg, and it didn’t feel good in Toronto. It was uncomfortable, and then it felt good after treatment for a couple of days.

“It’s been kind of an ‘on’ and ‘off’ type situation, so it’s just difficult to do anything with it other than take a long time off to let it heal. That’s not a real possibility. I expect to be 100 percent at some point [this season]. You obviously want to play, but you don’t want to force it and then be out for two months.”

Nobody has confirmed what’s wrong with Rask, but former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward told the Great American Hockey Show podcast earlier this week that he’s been told both the hamstring and groin are bothering the B’s goaltender. It’s been a frustrating stretch for Rask after appearing to tweak the injury against in wins over Columbus and New Jersey, but otherwise putting together a dominant stretch behind a Boston defense corps that’s looked otherwise shaky.

Rask is 3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average and simply wants to keep his high level of play going after the worst season of his NHL career. The Finnish netminder also wondered aloud whether participating in the preseason World Cup might have played a factor in the injury, as it did with Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.

“I’ve felt good when I’ve played, so you hope it just goes right back to that when you get back in there,” said Rask. “It is what it is, right? A couple of goalies that have battled with injuries played in the World Cup, so I don’t know whether to blame that or not. It’s tough, but it’s hockey. You just have to realize what’s best for you and what’s best for the team in the long run. It’s not easy.”

The best thing for the Bruins: getting Rask back in the crease as they head off for a three-game road trip through Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay that would be a test even if they were full strength, instead of missing David Backes (injury) and David Pastrnak (suspension).


Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.