BRIGHTON, Mass – One might have thought that the Bruins would ride Jaroslav Halak given the way he’s played between the pipes recently.
One would be wrong as Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice at Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and will be the starting goalie against Tyler Seguin and the red-hot Dallas Stars at TD Garden. Rask hasn’t played in over a week dating back to an Oct. 27 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, so it seems clear the B’s are starting him so he doesn’t gather too much rust just one month into the season.
- MORE BRUINS - Against the elite, B's offense is offensive
Bruce Cassidy said following Monday’s practice that it wasn’t difficult to go with Rask given the relative business of the B’s schedule, but Rask clearly hasn’t seized his playing time with a 3-3-0 record, 3.15 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
“It’s not tonight,” said Cassidy, when asked if it was a difficult call going with Rask over a white hot Halak after the backup stopped 39 of 40 shots in a 1-0 loss to Nashville last weekend. “With five games in the stretch, there’s no way Halak would be on for all five games even if he pitched a shutout. It just wouldn’t happen. It’s just too early in the year to tax a goalie. It will be a little more difficult [of a decision] as the week goes on depending on how everybody plays. But Tuukka is in tonight, and he’s well-rested and ready to go.”
Halak, on the other hand, leads the NHL with a 1.45 goals-against average and .952 save percentage and has been a godsend for the Black and Gold, who have hit a rough patch offensively of late. It would seem to be a mistake to not go with Halak given that the Bruins don’t play again until Thursday and instead ride the hot hand with their backup until he inevitably cools down.
At this point in the season, it would make sense for the Bruins to bank points with the sure bet in net, given the state of their offense, and then worry about sitting Rask for too long at a later point. Still, that’s clearly not the route that Cassidy and the Bruins are going with a feeling it’s still too early in the season to roll with one guy between the pipes.
- MORE HAGGERTY - Hagg Bag: Tuukka Time...for trade proposals from readers
If there's a kind of coach's decision that's ripe for second-guessing this early in the season, this could be one of them.
Instead, it will be Halak most likely on Thursday against the Canucks and perhaps again Saturday night against the Maple Leafs, with Rask seemingly earmarked for a Sunday night home game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
With Rask as the starter on Monday night, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings with Anton Blidh called as a precaution just in case Chris Wagner (lower body) can’t go for the fourth line tonight:
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.