It’s been eight years since Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask last found himself in this spot.
Entering the postseason without a contract for next season for the first time since 2013 (Rask turned that opportunity into an eight-year, $56 million deal back then), the now 34-year-old Rask kicked this latest run off with a 29-of-32 performance, including an overtime squeaker off, under, and through him for a 3-2 Washington victory.
It’s not the first time that Rask has dropped the opening game of a postseason round, of course. But was it the last?
Say what you will about its timing, but given the uncertainty surrounding Rask’s playing future (something acknowledged by everyone, including Bruins president Cam Neely), it’s not an unfair question. And it was lobbed Rask’s way on Saturday.
“I haven’t really thought of that,” Rask, who made his 94th career playoff start Saturday, said when asked if he’s thinking about his hockey future. “I think I just try to go game-by-game, series-by-series and then see what the future brings after that. Obviously, there’s going to be some decisions to be made, but we’ll do that when the time’s right.
“Right now, I’m not thinking that. I’m just thinking game-by-game and series-by-series.”
Rask has seemingly taken the entire season on a day-to-day basis at this point. He’s repeatedly stated that he’s less than 100 percent, as he’s battled a (believed to be) back injury since Mar. 7, even when playing effective hockey. That’s even true as it relates to next season, as Rask confirmed on a follow-up regarding his status for the 2021-22 season.
“I’m not going to answer that right now,” Rask said with a chuckle when asked if he feels good enough to play next season. “I’ll talk to you after the season. You’ll find out.”
In the now, Rask and the Bruins will look to even this first-round series up at 1-1 on Monday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.