Bruins’ Cassidy acknowledges potential of Jaroslav Halak stealing more starts
By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made it known after Thursday’s victory over the Philadelphia Flyers that there’s nothing that will hold backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak back from starting more games for the Bruins.
“We told Jaro, ‘Listen if you come in and play we’re not going to limit your starts,'” Cassidy, who has gone to Halak in three of the last four games, said after the 3-0 final at TD Garden. “We’ll allow the competition to evolve, and he’s done a real good job.”
Thus far, the competition has evolved into the 33-year-old Halak leaving Tuukka Rask in the dust.
With a 26-save shutout to his name on Thursday, Halak saw his save percentage rise from .933 to .945. That ranks Halak third among goaltenders with at least five starts this season, trailing only Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov. Among that same group, Rask ranks 25th, even after a 38-of-39 performance in Wednesday on Tuesday night, with a .901 save percentage. Halak has also posted a .948 save percentage at even-strength play, which is the third-best mark in the league among qualifying goaltenders, trailing just Pekka Rinne’s .949 and John Gibson’s .951 out of the gate. Rask is nestled into the 15th-best spot at even-strength play here, with a .920 save percentage.
But to date, Halak has merely managed to perform with the starts that have been mapped out for him. Of his five starts this year, only last Saturday’s start against the Vancouver Canucks was a ‘better option than Rask’ kind of start given to him.
If this difference in their performance continues, though, Cassidy knows that he may have to rework that mapping from a ‘resting Rask’ standpoint to a ‘who gives us the better option to win’ standpoint.
“It could, absolutely,” Cassidy said of that possibility.
“We do that at the start of the year for – we’ve done it here for years and just to work Tuukka’s [Rask] starts in because he’s been the number one,” Cassidy continued. “But if Jaro’s able to push him and if and eventually take the job if and when that happens then we’ll look at that. We’re going to try to keep it as balanced as possible early on, and then like we said if one separates himself from the other like every other position here then we’ll allow that to evolve.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.