By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins will begin their three-game round-robin tournament for postseason seeding with Tuukka Rask in net, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Thursday night.
“Tuukka’s gonna start the Philly game, and then from there, we’re gonna use both," Cassidy said after the team's 4-1 exhibition loss to the Blue Jackets. "I don’t wanna get too far ahead of myself, but let’s see how Tuukka does Sunday, how he feels coming out of that game, and we’ll see who goes against Tampa [next Wednesday].”
This was likely the plan regardless of Thursday's effort, which saw both goaltenders get into action, with Rask stopping 17-of-20 shots before Jaroslav Halak came into the game in the second period and stopped 10-of-10 out of the bullpen.
Cassidy also didn't want to throw too much blame Rask's way for a first period that saw the Bruins unable to match the Jackets' energetic start, leading to countless breakdowns and high-quality looks against the Vezina finalist.
"We didn’t play well in front of Tuukka in the first period, obviously,” Cassidy said. “Pucks went through us in that first period a lot. Just showed us we weren’t really sharp with our sticks and our mental part of it."
Rask would rebound in the second period, stopping all seven shots thrown his way before Halak came in for the second half of the evening, and added that it was strange to find himself playing hockey in July, and without any crowd noise.
“It was weird, definitely," Rask said of the experience. "I haven’t played a real hockey game in July since… who knows when. The pace is a little bit quicker than our practice-scrimmages, so that felt like an issue for me. Especially in the first period. That part comes with just playing and hopefully, whenever our next game is, we’ll feel better and better.”
This round-robin schedule will force the Bruins to get a little wacky with their goalies, too, as starting Rask on Sunday and resting him on Wednesday would mean that he would go a full week between round-robin starts. But starting him on both Sunday and Wednesday would likely give him the following Sunday off, meaning he would enter the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a week's rest to his name.
Neither seems particularly ideal when it comes to getting the rust off in a timely fashion.
But no matter who gets summoned into action, Cassidy will trust his Jennings-winning combo to get the job done.
“I know they’re two good goaltenders, so I believe they’ll be on top of their game in a hurry here," Cassidy offered.
Sports Hub Sidelines Podcast
Matt Dolloff and I talked at length about the Bruins and the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the newest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast. Have a listen below.