Boston Bruins

Dec 20, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask congratulates goaltender Jaroslav Halak after their 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson,

In the blink of one incredibly long, never-ending five-overtime affair between the Blue Jackets and Lightning, Bruins netminder Jaroslav Halak became an incredibly important piece of Boston’s first-round puzzle against the Hurricanes.

With Game 1 rescheduled to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, and with Game 2 still set for Thursday night, the Bruins will begin their 2020 postseason run with a back-to-back. And with a back-to-back scheduled for Games 5 and 6, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins have the potential to play six games in nine days (six games in nine days!) should this series require six games.

That distinct possibility should point to Halak getting the net for at least one of these games.

Playing both legs of a back-to-back isn’t something Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy asks out of his goaltenders. It sorta defeats the entire purpose of the investment they made in Jaroslav Halak (and Anton Khudobin before that) if you’re going to ask one goaltender to play two times in 24 hours. In fact, you could argue that that strain on Rask is why those guys landed in Boston in the first place.

Oddly enough, Cassidy touched on this very topic following Tuesday’s optional skate.

“I don’t think we had a goalie, by design over the last – since Jaro has been here, maybe even [Anton Khudobin] – play a back-to-back,” Cassidy said. “I know Jaro had to do it one year because Tuukka got hurt, I think it was against Vegas and someone else early. But, in general, no, we don’t do [have one goaltender play back-to-back games]. We’ll see how it plays out.”

He nailed it. One of the only times that Halak was asked to go back-to-back came in 2018 when Rask took his leave of absence from the team. Rask, meanwhile, was asked to go back-to-back for the first time in Cassidy’s entire tenure behind the bench earlier this season, and that only happened because Halak arrived to the rink feeling under the weather.

Overall, Rask has posted a 3-11-2 record and .907 save percentage on zero days rest dating back to 2015. Compare that to Rask’s 186-87-40 record and .919 save percentage in every other rest situation and you’re talking about a substantial dropoff.

And, again, it basically screams that Halak will have to be called upon at some point in this series. Even with the 11 a.m. Game 1 puck drop and 8 p.m. Game 2 start time giving the 33-year-old Rask a little extra time to recovery.

“Tuukka is starting,” Cassidy said on Tuesday morning. “He’s looked good the last couple times in the net so it’s his ball to run with for now and we’ll kind of cross that bridge when we come to it with the back-to-back.

“That’s Game 5 and 6, that’s a long way away.”

But then Tuesday happened, putting the Bruins just a day away from crossing that bridge.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.