The Boston Bruins are “full steam ahead” with goalie Tuukka Rask when the new season begins.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy said that all is well after the netminder left the playoff bubble last season.
“I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” Cassidy said Wednesday. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”
Rask departed the bubble in Toronto in mid-August to attend to a medical emergency with his daughter, but for some the move was fraught with controversy because of reasons.
The Bruins went with Jaroslav Halak and knocked off the Carolina Hurricanes before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Rask was tremendous in the regular season, posting a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in 41 games. But things took a tumble in the playoffs and he went 1-3-0 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.57 goals-against average.
“I think Tuukka, he can speak for himself,” Cassidy said. “But I think he just wants to get back in the net and play hockey and play well and give us a chance to win. Probably nobody more excited on our team to [be] getting back in there. I would assume that Tuukka would sort of say, ‘Hey, I’m still the goalie I was last year and I’m ready to go. Family’s good, I’m good. Everyone’s in a good place. Let’s play hockey.’”
Most teams go through these things with key players, as some fans are quick to jump on and off the bandwagon depending on how much success is involved. Goaltenders often bear the brunt of any backlash and Rask’s decision to leave the bubble, regardless of its importance, is still a matter of “debate” for many.
But the Bruins know the value of standing by their man and that’s what they intend to do.
Boston will need all the help they can get this upcoming season, with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak set to start the year on the late side. Marchand had sports hernia surgery in September and won’t be due back until mid-January, while Pastrnak will return mid-February after a five-month recovery from right hip arthroscopy and labral repair in September.
Both Rask and Halak see their contracts end after the 2020-2021 season, so we could be staring down the barrel of a new era. Rask doesn’t have a no-trade clause for the 2020-2021 season and expressed some desire to retire somewhat on the early side. Any new deal would be to the tune of some serious green, so that gives the club a lot to think about.