By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins will indeed begin their three-game round-robin tournament for postseason seeding without Tuukka Rask.
Given a game-time designation after he sat out Saturday’s practice after feeling under the weather, Rask’s absence was confirmed by Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Sunday morning, with Jaroslav Halak named the club’s starter for today’s contest against the Flyers. Halak will be backed up by Daniel Vladar.
“Unfit to participate,” Cassidy said of Rask’s status. “[He’s] feeling better. Hopefully he gets back out on the ice real soon.”
Down a Vezina finalist, the Bruins can take comfort in having Halak, who posted an 18-6-6 record and .919 save percentage in 31 appearances in the regular season. The 35-year-old Halak made two starts against the Flyers in 2019-20, and stopped 61-of-68 shots (an .897 save percentage) in two shootout losses.
In other lineup news, Brad Marchand will play after exiting Thursday’s exhibition tilt with an undisclosed injury, while Jack Studnicka will remain the team’s second-line right wing next to Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.
The Bruins will also stick with the third line that finished Thursday’s game, with Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman skating as Charlie Coyle’s wings. This line finished with just under seven minutes of five-on-five action together in Thursday’s loss, and Cassidy noted that he believes that the line will be a stronger puck possession group in their next outing. That comes today.
A pair of participants from Thursday’s contest, center Par Lindholm and defenseman John Moore, will be scratched from Boston’s lineup. Lindholm’s absence will move Sean Kuraly back to the middle of Boston’s fourth line, while Moore’s move back to the press box (if there even is one at these games) comes as a result of Jeremy Lauzon hanging on to his third-pairing spot opposite Matt Grzelcyk.
Trade deadline additions Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, meanwhile, will remain out of action for the Bruins. Nick Ritchie participated in Thursday’s optional skate and then skated in Saturday’s practice, while Kase was with Boston’s second group on Saturday. Kase opted not to discuss the delay that prevented him from joining the Bruins in Toronto at the start of Phase 4.
This will be the first of three round-robin contests for the Bruins. These games are worth two points, and with feature regular-season overtime rules. The team with the most points at the end of the three-game tournament will be named the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Any tiebreakers will be settled by regular-season point percentage.
Here’s the complete lineup for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Jack Studnicka
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon