Tuukka Rask has shown evidence all along the way that he might be conflicted about returning to play for the Bruins this summer amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we have full confirmation with the Boston goaltender’s decision to opt out of the rest of the playoffs.
Rask made some pretty surprising comments after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Game 2 that the playoffs were “dull” without the fans, and that the playoff games felt more like “exhibition games” without the fans in the stands inside the Toronto bubble.
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“We knew this will be a mental challenge for all of our players and he just felt like he needed to be home with them at this particular time,” said Don Sweeney, noting that Rask had a newborn baby daughter born a few months ahead of the return to play in Toronto. “The priorities are in the right order and this is what he has to do at this time.”
On the ice, Rask had an .899 save percentage and a 3.00 goals against average in the two games vs. Carolina and had showed little battle in fighting to track the puck through traffic in front while also showing body language that indicated he wasn’t feeling the playoff intensity either.
“I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family,” said Rask in a statement released by the Bruins. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”
Clearly, it’s the right decision for Rask and his family to go home if that’s what his heart is telling him to do in these most difficult times.
Leaving the Bruins in the middle of a postseason series against the Hurricanes means that the No. 1 goaltender for the rest of the postseason will be Jaroslav Halak with Daniel Vladar likely to be the backup for the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.