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).