By Eli Canfield
After a 4-1 beatdown at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers in their first game in the Round Robin qualifier, one thing was for sure, the Boston Bruins needed Tuukka Rask back, and they need him back severely.
Jaroslav Halak has served as an excellent backup all season long, calling him one of the best backups in the league. He was a brick wall all season long, stopping 92% of the shots he’s faced leading the Bruins to 18 wins while losing just six games of those games in regulation. While Halak is a great goalie and should be a starter in this league, the Bruins need Rask if they want to make a deep run at the Stanley Cup.
When the NHL was putting together the plan for the resumption of the season, they set new injury protocols into place to protect their players’ health and privacy. The NHL has always been private regarding injuries, with the classic upper-body or lower-body injury designation that we all know and hate. Now, it’s even more secure. Teams are not allowed to disclose any information regarding the players’ health is why Rask was deemed “unfit to play” by Bruins’ Head Coach Bruce Cassidy ahead of Sunday’s game against the Flyers.
A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Rask was nursing a broken finger on his glove hand, an injury that occurred while box jumping during a team workout in late July. Then last Saturday, Cassidy told the media that Rask “was not feeling well,” which is why Halak got the call to start between the pipes against the Flyers. This came after a scrimmage against the Blue Jackets in which Rask allowed three goals on just 20 shots faced. After the scrimmage, Cassidy backed up Rask and said he would start against the Flyers before we learned that he was ill on Saturday.
So, a lot happened over the past couple of weeks surrounding Tuukka Rask. A lot of questions still surrounding his fingers as well as his illness. Rask is a vital part of this team and is a necessary component to the Bruins’ formula to win the Stanley Cup. Halak has shown us all season long that he is a great player to slot in for Rask, but he showed us his flaws in the game against the Flyers, and those flaws are too significant for the Bruins to have a shot.
Bruins fans should be a bit worried after watching how the team performed yesterday in multiple portions of the game. Whether it’s the lack of offense, the lack of explosiveness, or how the quality of play in goal, yesterday was full of mistakes. Halak isn’t the one to blame, but he did not play up to par and looked very shaky during several points of Sunday’s game. Halak showed the world what he was yesterday, which is not a good sign for the Bruins.
Rask is set to get back on the ice on Monday, according to Cassidy, in the post game press conference on Sunday, but that remains to be seen. Bruins fans everywhere should be holding their breath about Rask, hoping that he gets back on the ice in Wednesday’s big game against Tampa Bay. While these games aren’t as important as what’s to come next for the Bruins, it would be disappointing to see them falter over the next two games and drop from the first to the fourth seed. If the Bruins don’t want that to happen, they need to get Rask back before the Round Robin is over.