Bruins

Tuukka Rask practices, could play Thursday against Sharks

bruins-tuukka-rask-032316.jpg

Tuukka Rask practices, could play Thursday against Sharks

BRIGHTON, Mass -- Tuukka Rask may return sooner rather than later, after all.

The 30-year-old Bruins goaltender returned to regular practice on Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena, and could still be in the lineup for Thursday night’s tilt with the San Jose Sharks if he passes his final concussion testing. Rask said it was the first concussion of his hockey career, and that most of the tricky symptoms went away within the first couple of days following last week’s practice collision with rookie Anders Bjork.

Rask dryly called it “a good hit” and confirmed that Bjork was indeed pushed into Rask as the circumstances behind him getting laid out on the ice, but said there won’t be any hesitation to his game when he does back between the pipes.

“I’ve been good for a few days. Skated yesterday and today ramped it up a little bit more. Now I go do the concussion computer test, get cleared and then go full tilt [on Wednesday],” said Rask, who was definitely spaghetti-legged when he was helped off the ice less than a week ago during the fateful practice. “Luckily I didn’t lose consciousness or anything, and the doctors said generally that if you haven’t had too many of them, and they do happen at an older age, you tend to bounce back quicker. The first two days were a little foggy, but I turned the corner pretty quickly.

“The whole protocol with the league is so you don’t come back too quickly, and I think they definitely make sure that’s not the case.”

Should Rask get thrown right back in vs. the Sharks if he passes the concussion testing?

“If I feel good and I’m on the roster then why not? Hopefully my baseline wasn’t too high before the season” said a smirking Rask. “They didn’t want me to do contact today, but I didn’t feel hesitant. You can’t go out there and feel hesitant.”

Otherwise, both Patrice Bergeron and Kevan Miller (no-contact jersey) made it through practice with the Bruins while David Krejci missed his second straight practice with a cranky back that caused him to miss last weekend’s loss to Buffalo. The continued absence for Krejci is starting to put his availability for Thursday into some doubt as well. Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Nash-Agostino

Schaller-Kuraly-Beleskey

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Miller-Postma

Rask

Khudobin

Bean: Bruins created a monster that could end their season

rielly_acciari_bruins_leafs_gamesix_4232018.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bean: Bruins created a monster that could end their season

It goes without saying that you should never let a team linger. The Bruins did that with the Maple Leafs, and here we are. Game 7 will be played on Wednesday. 

The longer a series goes, the more likely it becomes that one of many variables will work against you: The other goalie will get hot, one of your guys will get hurt or, most frustrating of all, you'll get unlucky. 

The Bruins let the series go longer than necessary with questionable coaching decisions and poor goaltending in Game 5. They lost that game. Now, they've created a monster: An inferior roster with a bad defense is about to knock them out of the playoffs if they aren't careful.  

MORE BRUINS: Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

Take the second period of Game 6. It was a complete reversal of fortune from Games 1 and 4. Whereas the Bruins were dominated in the second periods of those games but still emerged with a lead, they experienced the opposite Monday. 

The period, which the teams entered scoreless, started with three quick strikes, one from Boston and two from Toronto. The second Leafs goal, which came as a result of a poor clearing attempt from Charlie McAvoy, was overturned when it was determined that Zach Hyman interfered with Tuukka Rask.

From there, it was all Bruins. Were it not for strong goaltending from the either hot or freezing Frederik Andersen, they could have potted multiple goals. Instead, the game's next goal came when Brad Marchand couldn't clear a blocked point shot and Torey Krug left Mitch Marner all alone in the high slot. Marner pounced on the puck and backhanded it past a not-quick-enough Tuukka Rask to give the Leafs the lead. 

The Bruins nearly doubled up the Leafs in possession in that period. It was all Boston. But the other goalie was good and the B's were unlucky. That's hockey. It's just frustrating when "that's hockey" happens in a game that didn't need to be played. 

So now the Bruins face elimination. I don't expect them to lose, but they could. You never know. The variables, the "that's hockey" thing, etc. 

Bruce Cassidy has made non-injury related changes in each of the last two games. In Game 5, he changed his bottom two defensive pairs and changed his top pairing's deployment to disastrous results. Game 6 saw him scratch Danton Heinen in for of Tommy Wingels and demote Rick Nash to the third line. 

The new line of David Krejci between Jake DeBrusk and Wingels generated a goal, but the third line of Riley Nash between Rick Nash and David Backes once again yielded fruitless 5-on-5 play from Rick Nash.

Backes turned in his sixth even-strength disappearing act in as many games. Cassidy's next move should be to put Ryan Donato in the lineup.

The rookie was not impressive in his lone game this series (Game 2), but the Bruins need scoring.

Then again, Cassidy, like most coaches, is generally hesitant to give a young player the keys. He trusts what he knows. He also likely knows he's not getting enough from some of his regulars. 

There's little-to-no chance Cassidy would sit Nash or Backes unless they were hurt. Wingels is the most obvious candidate to come back out of the lineup since Boston's fourth line is too good to be disrupted. 

But this is not where the Bruins thought they would be. They didn't think that they, one of the three best teams in the NHL during the regular season, would be looking for answers entering the seventh game of the first round. 

But here they are. The Leafs, armed with a hot goaltender and the best hockey coach on the planet, are ready to complete an upset on Wednesday. It shouldn't happen, but a sixth game wasn't supposed to, either.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

bruins_leafs_gamesix_4232018.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

TORONTO – Once again the Bergeron Line was held off the scoresheet and once again that meant a playoff loss for the Boston Bruins.

The top line had 23 shot attempts and a handful of scoring chances, but the Toronto defense and Freddie Andersen held them in check while the Leafs scored a goal with them on the ice in a 3-1 win in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins have lost two straight chances to close Toronto out early in the best-of-seven series and now it will come down to a Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden for the right to play Tampa Bay in the next round of the playoffs.

After a scoreless first period where the teams were feeling each other out, the offensive flurries kicked up in the second period for both hockey clubs. Jake DeBrusk scored his third goal of the postseason just over a minute into the period when he snapped home a shot from the high slot off an offensive zone face-off win from David Krejci. It was just the third even-strength goal for Krejci’s line in this entire series and one that was absolutely needed in this game.

Unfortunately, they weren’t joined by any of the other three forward lines on the score sheet.

Instead, the Leafs scored 35 seconds later to tie things up and immediately take the momentum back away from the Black and Gold. Nazem Kadri fired a long-range shot that Tuukka Rask kicked out for a rebound, and the puck went right to a wide open William Nylander in front for his first goal of the postseason.

It appeared that Toronto had scored again a short time later to take the lead on a Zach Hyman goal, but a good Bruins challenge overturned the score after it was determined Hyman interfered with Rask prior to scoring.

The score stayed deadlocked for most of the second period until a misstep by Boston’s top line opened up a chance that the Leafs stepped right into. Brad Marchand couldn’t corral a loose puck in the middle of the slot after a partially blocked shot, and instead Mitch Marner snatched it away and snapped a backhanded bid past Rask for the go-ahead score.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE