By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The goalie, under the circumstances, does not warrant your skepticism. That, frankly, should be reserved for the goal scorer.
So Tuukka Rask is gone, having officially opted out of the bubble on Sunday, just hours before the Bruins took on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. Rask’s departure was ground-shaking and potentially costly, the most classic example of be careful what you wish for. If you were among the many who were critical of Rask’s play and championship potential over the years, you have what you wanted. He’s gone.
But if you choose to be annoyed, the guy you should really be frustrated with remains David Pastrnak.
With Pastrnak absent again, the Bruins defeated the Hurricanes by a 3-1 score on Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead. So what’s the problem? With Pastrnak out, the Bruins have scored one even-strength goal in the last two games – an empty-netter by Brad Marchand in the final seconds of Game 3. If that doesn’t change – and soon – the Bruins won’t have much of a chance to win the Stanley Cup no matter who’s in goal.
Here’s the other thing: if Rask’s absence was unavoidable – and by all accounts, it seems directly or tangentially related to the pandemic – Pastrnak’s might have been. He has a physical injury, after all, and one can’t help but wonder if it has been the direct result of poor preparation. Don’t forget that Pastrnak was late to report for the start of training camp and then had to be quarantined, something which even Bruins president Cam Neely openly questioned.
“We had the date for when camp was starting and knew that some players may need to quarantine when they get here, you kind of hope they would get here a little earlier,” Neely told reporters. “But we didn’t really have much say in that and that was really left up to the players. And so obviously with what’s played out and transpired you certainly would’ve hoped there’s some different decisions made. But in the long run I don’t know if it’s really going to affect us once we get into Toronto. I think we’ll be fine.”
So now we have to ask: has it affected them? And if Pastrnak aggravated an injury celebrating Patrice Bergeron’s overtime goal in Game 1, well, did the injury result because he ramped up his conditioning too fast after being late to the party?
So fine, be frustrated at Tuukka if you like. The goalie position comes with scrutiny built in.
But if we’re questioning the real validity of an absence, shouldn’t Pastrnak be first on the list?