By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Is Tuukka Rask the Bruins' starting goaltender throughout the playoffs, no matter what? Bruce Cassidy hasn't been as committed to that as he has in the past. In fact, the Bruins head coach has continually hinted that he'd be OK with going to Jaroslav Halak if the situation calls for it.
Cassidy continued to expound upon that idea in his latest interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on Tuesday. Rask is the starting goalie to begin their opening round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but doesn't exactly have a stranglehold on the role. It runs counter to what most teams do in the playoffs, which is ride a single starter throughout their run.
That doesn't necessarily mean Rask and Halak will split their starts evenly right off the bat, which is what the Bruins essentially did in the regular season. But Cassidy made it clear that if he feels it's time to play Halak, he'll be just as confident with him. And at the same time, he wants to be careful not to make rash decisions.
"I’d feel comfortable with either guy in net," Cassidy said. "I think our guys play equally well in front of both goaltenders, have the same amount of confidence. They’re just going to play their game. So that’s the positive of it. I guess the negative in the back of your mind, if you don’t give your starter the benefit of the doubt, if he’s having one of those average games, you can get quick trigger fingers. That would be the downside of, maybe, you rushed into a judgment that you didn’t think through.
"We’ve kind of looked at our year as a whole. Both guys have played almost an equal number of games. So for us to use one or the other, I don’t think, is a big deal in our locker room. I think that’s what you’ve got to be careful of. You pull your starter, throw a guy in there, the rest of the guys are looking at you like, ‘What the hell are you doing? You’re panicking’. But I think our guys realize we have won with both, so it shouldn’t be a big issue if we had to go down that road."
Cassidy also implied that Rask and Halak themselves understand the situation. Rask started 45 games to Halak's 37 in the regular season and they've both needed to spell each other amid cold streaks. So it shouldn't surprise either of them if Cassidy decides to start one over the other as the playoffs progress.
"I think they understand they both played all year, so if we ended up using both I don’t think you’ll lose one or the other. I really don’t," Cassidy said. "Listen, it's a performance-driven industry. In the playoffs everything's magnified, you're on a much shorter time frame. You lose, you’re done. So you have to make some of these judgments quickly. Hopefully the players realize that [I'm telling them] 'Listen, we’re going with the best guys that day'. And what we’ve done around here for the last 2-3 years is, we're trying to put the best guys out there, and the next day is a new day. We move on to the next game. Guys get second or third chances if they prove they can handle that, and it would be no different at [goaltender], that's for sure."
Sounds like the leash has shortened on Rask. Which could ultimately be a good thing for both him and the Bruins in this playoff run.
Listen to T&R's full interview with Bruce Cassidy below:
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].