The Boston Bruins may be without their starting goaltender come Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Although the Bruins have made no official announcement on Saturday starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was notably absent from practice, sending up red flags about the availability of the veteran goaltender just one day before the Bruins are set to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although it could have merely been a maintenance day the latest update from Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press suggests that there may be more than mere maintenance here for Rask.
According to Whyno, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy informed reporters today that Rask "wasn't feeling well," and that has to send up some major red flags. A player getting sick inside the bubble would be far from ideal and that is even before we consider a potential risk of infection with COVID-19, something that could prove disastrous for the Bruins and for the National Hockey League at large. Of course we have no real idea of what is ailing Tuukka Rask and we likely won't know moving forward given the NHL's new rules about disclosing player injuries or illnesses, but we will know more about Rask's status by tomorrow for certain.
The Bruins will have to make a decision come tomorrow about their starting netminder and if Rask is unavailable it will be Jaroslav Halak who gets the start, a pretty good silver lining for the Bruins. Halak made 31 appearances for the Bruins this season and was strong in those performances with a 2.39 goals against average and a .919 save percentage over the season. Halak has been a starter at numerous points in his career and is no doubt capable of shouldering the burden should Rask be unable to go, however this would be a less than ideal situation for the Bruins.
As great as Halak was for the Bruins, Rask was unbelievable over his 41 appearances and had one of the best seasons of any goalie in the NHL. His 2.12 goals against average and .929 save percentage reflect why he was the starter despite having some tough competition for the spot, and also serve to show why the Bruins would ideally be going back to Rask in this situation.