The Boston Bruins will be without one of their top stars for their first game of the playoffs.
The Bruins are set to face off against the Philadelphia Flyers for what will be Game 1 of the Eastern Conference round robin that will be contested between the Bruins, Flyers, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, but they will do so without star goaltender Tuukka Rask. We reported on Saturday about the possibility of an absence for Rask due to the fact that he had been notably absent from the Bruins skate that day. The Bruins would later confirm that Rask was feeling under the weather, and we now know that whatever is ailing him will keep him out of the first game of the playoffs.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has confirmed that Rask is feeling better but also added that they had determined he would be unfit to play in Sunday's game, which means that very capable backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak will be getting the call against the Flyers. Halak will be backed up by Bruins rookie goaltender Daniel Vladar and in Vladar we have a much bigger question mark than we do with Halak. The 22 year old netminder has never played a single game in the National Hockey League but if his performance in the American Hockey League last season was any indication of things to come this kid may be ready to go. Vladar, a 3rd round selection by the Bruins at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in 25 games for the Providence Bruins this past season and recorded a very impressive 1.79 goals against average and an equally impressive .936 save percentage over that stretch.
Going with the much, much, more experienced Halak here makes all the sense in the world though, he has 500 more games played than Vladar in the NHL and has also played in 30 NHL playoff games as well. Halak had a very good season of his own putting up numbers that would have made him a starter on most teams in the NHL, with a 2.39 goals against average and a .919 save percentage over the course of 31 games in the regular season.