BOSTON – As has happened countless times the past few years, Tuukka Rask will not be starting against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
- MORE HAGGERTY - Time to start worrying about Tuukka again?
Anton Khudobin will get the nod against the Habs with Rask nursing a “very minor injury,” according to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. Rask got the win on Thursday night against the Penguins in his third game in a six-day span, but was dreadful in the first period allowing three goals on the first six shots he faced before settling in. With Khudobin scheduled to play either Saturday vs. Montreal or Tuesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings, Cassidy opted to go with the backup against Boston’s arch-rivals in their final meeting of the season.
“I talked to Tuukka and he’s playing through a very, very minor injury, so we’ll give him a couple of extra days before going against Detroit, and then we’ll split them up again on the weekend,” said Cassidy. “The discussion was with Tuukka himself. Listen, he knows his body better than I do. ‘Are you good to go, or are you better off [with a few days rest]?’…that’s how we’re laying it out.
“So he said ‘No, let’s get Anton in there and I’ll use the extra time.’ That will happen with other players as well, and that will be a part of it. Will we have the luxury to do that with other players down the stretch? I don’t know. Right now we like our position. We’d like to move up…don’t get me wrong. But we’re not in a dogfight like some of the other teams, so we can afford to a little bit of that.”
The break this weekend should be a welcome one for Rask as he’s posted an .888 save percentage in his past six games and allowed three goals or more in four of those six games, including a blowout loss in Vancouver Canucks on Boston’s last road trip. With a history of wearing down in the stretch run, keeping Rask fresh and 100 percent efficient has been one of Boston’s big seasonal goals this year, and sitting him on Saturday - against a team he's 10-15-3 lifetime, with a 2.41 goals-against average - would certainly qualify as part of that.
The Bruins just have to hope that putting their No. 1 goalie in bubble wrap for a few days elicits the same kind of hot streak as the one Rask rode midseason when he went 21 consecutive starts with a point, and went 19-0-2 in that stretch as the NHL’s hottest goalie.
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Canadiens with Danton Heinen also returning to the lineup, and pushing Tommy Wingels up to the press box as a healthy scratch: