In a matter of hours, Tuukka Rask was scratched from a scheduled start against the Coyotes, Jeremy Swayman was a late scratch for the P-Bruins in Hartford, and Troy Grosenick was promoted from the Big B’s taxi squad. The good news for the Bruins is that the sudden shake-up didn’t stop Linus Ullmark from churning out an impressive 30-save performance over the Coyotes, but what it all meant for the Boston crease was anybody’s guess.
Starting at the top, what’s going on with Rask?
In action for four games this season, and with the sides skipping out on a once-planned AHL assignment to get the 34-year-old back in rhythm without running the risk of NHL losses, Rask’s comeback from major hip surgery hasn’t gone off as smoothly as the sides would have hoped. Despite the 2-2-0 record, Rask entered Friday sporting an .844 save percentage, and was coming off a 22-of-27 loss to the Ducks last Monday night at TD Garden.
But the Bruins have remained openly committed to ‘seeing it through’ with Rask and giving him what they believe the appropriate number of games needed to get back in a groove after going over 200 days between games. So the scratch from a potential ‘gimme’ in Arizona wasn’t performance related, Bruce Cassidy confirmed.
“It’s a lower body injury,” Cassidy confirmed after the victory in Glendale. “He came out of his last start and felt a little something, but we thought he would be fine for the trip. That’s what he indicated to us, but I guess not as much a few days later.
“It didn’t come around as much as he’d like. So that’s the situation there.”
It also explains why Swayman was recalled, even with Grosenick with the team as a taxi squader.
“Swayman would be the guy if either goaltender went down for any reason,” Cassidy acknowledged.
But weather was working against Swayman on Friday night with the northeast getting absolutely hammered by a blizzard, and Cassidy wasn’t sure if Swayman was going to be able to meet the team in time for Saturday’s scheduled practice in Glendale. Cassidy also wasn’t sure if Rask’s lower-body injury would be enough to keep him off the ice Saturday, and the Boston bench boss wasn’t ready to make any sort of ruling when it come Sunday’s head-to-head with the Stars.
“We haven’t ruled [Rask] out for anything,” Cassidy, who has gone to Ullmark in back-to-back games (and with a heavy shot load), said. “We’ll see how he is [Saturday]. We’re going to practice, see how his availability is. If he’s not available [or if it] doesn’t feel like he’s going to be available Sunday or Tuesday, we would have to look at Swayman.”
Swayman, who last played for the Big B’s back on Jan. 6 in a 27-save losing effort to the Wild, is slated to return to the Bruins having posted a 2-2-0 record and .896 save percentage since reporting to Providence earlier this month.
The 23-year-old Swayman has totaled eight wins and a .918 save percentage in 16 decisions with Boston this season.
The other ‘option’ for the Bruins, of course, is riding Ullmark for an extended spell.
“You know, with Tuukka being day-to-day, there may not be a choice,” Cassidy said when asked about giving the net to Ullmark. “He certainly played well enough [Friday]. It was a lot of work. I’ll have to check to see how he is [Saturday], but his game was excellent. Finding pucks, tracking pucks with a lot of traffic, recovering, [and] playing inside the posts, I thought he did a real good job.”