Tuukka Rask

Will Tuukka Rask start again in Game 2? Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy won't say

Will Tuukka Rask start again in Game 2? Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy won't say

The Bruins (finally) struck first in their series against the Hurricanes, outlasting Carolina 4-3 in double overtime in Game 1. But the teams won't have long to rest, not with Game 2 set for tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

While the B's lineup shouldn't change that much, the quick turnaround raises the obvious question: Will Tuukka Rask get the start in net on short rest?

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Head coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn't reveal his Game 2 starter in the aftermath of Wednesday afternoon's victory, though he certainly left the door open to go with Rask over backup Jaroslav Halak.

"We'll talk about tomorrow tonight. We'll let everybody enjoy this one," Cassidy said. "The one thing about today's game, there wasn't a lot of taxing stretches in our own end where goalies will fatigue and dehydrate. Penalty kill was pretty solid in that regard, didn't get stuck a lot in our end so that is a bag factor on the recovery of Tuukka. Don't forget, a lot of the back-to-back games specifically with us -- well, everybody -- is you're traveling and you're getting a poor night's sleep and an early morning. So those won't be the case in this particular back-to-back.

"Everyone should sleep well tonight, get some rest so there's that consideration too. So you got two things that tilt towards Tuukka getting a back-to-back start. I'm not saying that's going to happen because the conversation needs to happen between him and [goaltending coach] Bob [Essensa] and if we feel like Jaro gives us the best chance to win, we'll certainly go that route."

Cassidy brings up a good point, as Rask wasn't exactly peppered with shots the way that Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo was when he made an NHL playoff-record 85 saves in a five-OT marathon Tuesday night. Rask only faced 28 shots in 80-plus minutes, and 12 of those came in the third period alone.

But playing on back-to-back days isn't a regular part of Rask's routine. He only did that once this season -- a 4-2 win over the Coyotes followed by a 3-1 road loss to the lowly Red Wings in February -- and he's only started on consecutive days four times over the last four seasons. In that time, he has a 1-3 record on the second day, with his lone win coming back in November 2016.

Still, appearing on "Postgame Live" on NBC Sports Boston following Game 1, Joe Haggerty explained why starting Rask might make more sense.

"Making that decision tomorrow, I might actually go back with Rask for this reason: They're now playing six games in nine days and that's pretty hard-core for the NHL schedule because of the game getting pushed back to today," Haggerty said. "I think for the Bruins, an older team, it would benefit them to try to take care of the Hurricanes as quickly as they could, and you run Tuukka back out there again and maybe you get up 2-0 in the series and you can cut them down in shorter order rather than getting in a longer series where all those games packed into a few short days might start to give the Bruins' legs some trouble. I do think at some point in this series -- there's another back-to-back next week -- Halak is going to play."

Whatever Cassidy decides, the Bruins should be in good hands. While Halak is technically the B's backup, he's a very good 1B option, finishing the season with a 2.39 goals against average and .919 save percentage, teaming with Rask to win the Jennings Trophy.

NHL Playoffs: How will Game 1 postponement affect Bruins' plans in net?

NHL Playoffs: How will Game 1 postponement affect Bruins' plans in net?

Everybody knew at the start of the NHL’s Return to Play that it would be a Stanley Cup Playoff like no other. We’re already beginning to see that play out.

Certainly, the Bruins enter Wednesday’s morning showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 1 ready to do battle, and they have the experience, mental strength and poise of a hockey club that’s experienced all the highs and lows that the NHL playoffs have to offer.

But one of their games getting postponed an entire day — and being made up in the morning — due to a playoff game going quintuple overtime is a new one even for the grizzled Bruins.

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Now the Bruins will play back-to-back games against the Hurricanes on Wednesday and Thursday for Games 1 and 2, and another back-to-back next week for Games 5 and 6. In all, they could play six games over the course of nine days, which is a grueling schedule by NHL standards that may be a bigger burden for an older group like the Black and Gold.

It would behoove the Bruins to take care of business quickly if possible against a younger Hurricanes group that might be less impacted by the burdensome schedule. As it is, the Bruins will be more likely to play backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak in at least one of these games given the propensity for No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask to wear down when his workload gets a little too heavy.

That’s something the B's can’t afford to have happen in the playoffs and something they were considering even before Game 1 was postponed until Wednesday.

“I don’t think we’ve had a goalie, by design, even since [Anton Khudobin] that’s played in a back-to-back. Jaro had to do it one year because Tuukka got hurt last year against Vegas and [another team]. But in general we don’t do it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll see how it plays out. One of the advantages we felt we had coming out of the pause is that both goalies would be fresh. So we lose a bit of that advantage to the teams that use just one guy.

“Tuukka is starting [Game 1] and he’s looked good the last couple of times in the net. It’s his ball to run with and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it with the back-to-back.”

The bridge to cross has become much closer for the Bruins and Cassidy sounded like it was going to be a bit more of a read-and-react situation with the goaltending after last night’s game was postponed.

“We’re going to let the game play out first [in Game 1]. The good news is that I’ll call it a day-and-a-half and a little more rest than typical [between Game 1 and Game 2]. There’s no travel involved. It may depend on the workload of Tuukka,” said Cassidy. “We’ll obviously discuss it with him. We’re very comfortable with both goaltenders. I’ve heard Rod [Brind’Amour] say it on the other side and they’ve proved it by using both goaltenders against the Rangers. It just happens that both teams use both of their goalies a lot, so it’s a fortunate break for both teams.”

The prediction here reading between Cassidy’s comments: Expect Rask to play on both Wednesday and Thursday and then the Bruins will perhaps look at where the series is at next week with Halak potentially getting a Game 5 look if the B’s are in control of the series. If the Bruins win comfortably in Game 1, there might even be a chance that the B’s come back with Halak on Thursday just to make sure there’s no burnout with Rask early in the postseason.

As Cassidy indicated, the Bruins trust in two goalies that teamed to win the Jennings Trophy this year means there’s little hesitation in going the backup route at some point in a series where the schedule is incredibly dense.  

NHL Playoffs: Bruins make lineup changes for Game 1; David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask ready to go

NHL Playoffs: Bruins make lineup changes for Game 1; David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask ready to go

The Bruins will have a full, healthy group when they take the ice for Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at the Toronto bubble at Scotiabank Arena.

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask were both part of an optional morning skate on Tuesday and Rask will get the start against the Hurricanes after posting a gaudy .955 save percentage against them in the Eastern Conference Final a little over a year ago. Otherwise, it will be rugged rookie D-man Jeremy Lauzon getting the starting nod for the Bruins on the bottom pairing and Connor Clifton coming out of the lineup after he played well in last weekend’s round-robin finale vs. Washington.

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On Monday, the Bruins readied for the “real games” by watching a video that featured all of the coaches', players' and staff’s families wishing the Bruins well from back home, and sending the message that “we are all in it” from Boston. Now that the glorified exhibition games of the round robin are over with, Cassidy said there’s a tangible note of excitement in the group as they ready for the first round.

This is exactly what the Bruins have been waiting five months for while staying sharp and in shape during a global pandemic.

"I think guys right now are pretty focused on the job at hand. That's Game 1 against Carolina,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think we've all been looking forward to this first playoff game. I think our guys are excited.

“It’s the way we played at the end of the year [with Lauzon] and we’re not burying that part of the season. Clifton played [a round robin game] and Johnny Moore one game, so we probably made that decision back in training camp with the way we allotted the ice time. At the end of the day if we need to make a switch in the lineup then we will, but we felt that gives us the best balance in our lineup of size and puck-moving ability.”

For the Carolina Hurricanes, they are expected to get Dougie Hamilton back after having not played for the last seven months following a broken leg suffered in the middle of January.

With Lauzon in the lineup and the Bruins settling into their middle-6 lines with Ondrej Kase and Anders Bjork on the right side, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings set to go up against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie Charlie Coyle Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Jeremy Lauzon

GOALTENDER

Tuukka Rask