The Bruins are not sure if goaltender Tuukka Rask will be available to play in the team’s must-win Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum.
The assumption from the Bruins following Monday’s Game 5 loss was that Rask would be ready to go, but with Rask at Warrior Ice Arena for treatment ahead of the team’s departure for Long Island, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to pump the brakes when it came to the status of his No. 1 goaltender.
“Tuukka was here this morning going over stuff with Bob [Essensa],” Cassidy, who kept his team off the ice, said Tuesday. “He’ll get his treatment and we’ll find out tomorrow how he is and if he’s able to go or not.”
Playing through a back injury suffered and reaggravated in March, Rask left Monday’s game after allowing four goals on 16 shots through two periods of play. It was a decision that Cassidy described as maintenance related and with Rask “not himself,” and paved the way for some emergency fill-in work for Jeremy Swayman.
It was a baptism by fire for the 23-year-old Swayman, too, with a breakaway stop on the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle standing as the first career postseason shot on goal he faced, and with the Islanders scoring their fifth and final goal of the evening on an all-alone slot chance buried by Swayman by Brock Nelson at the 1:59 mark of the third period.
“He made a couple of good saves early,” Cassidy said of Swayman’s third-period. “Let in a shot from the slot. We need to be better in front of him as well. Those were two very good chances and they got one by him.”
Swayman’s relief effort finished with saves on two of the three shots thrown his way, and the Bruins actually did not surrender another shot on goal following the Nelson goal, which was a mix of both a much-needed defensive clean-up and the Islanders packing it in with a hang-on-for-dear-life kind of defense in front of Semyon Varlamov (40 saves).
Cassidy also made it known that a potential turn to Swayman, while with the highest of stakes, wouldn’t outright blindside the B’s rookie given the meetings and work he’s gone through throughout this postseason run.
“He’s going through the same prep he always would during the season,” Cassidy said of Swayman. “He’s getting his reps. He’s on the ice, getting the work he needs. I mean, he’s always got to be ready. He’s the No. 2. So nothing really changes there.
“Obviously there’s more urgency if you’re starting about maybe some tendencies from shooters that Bob will go over with. But he’s been here all along. He’s been in every meeting. He’s watching the game. So some of it is just their job as a No. 2 and No. 3 for that matter to pay attention to those details that pertain to you.”
And now all eyes will be on the team’s Wednesday morning skate and who gets the nod in the starter’s crease.
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.