Bruce Cassidy open to Jaroslav Halak making more Bruins starts

Matt Kalman
December 21, 2019 - 1:37 pm

Jaroslav Halak is scheduled to make his 15th start of the season when the Bruins host the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

He’s 4-2-0 with a .934 save percentage in his past six games heading into the Nashville game. For the season he’s 8-3-3 with a .928 save percentage and two shutouts.

Tuukka Rask, on the other hand, is 0-2-3 with an .882 save percentage in his past five games. In 22 games he is 13-4-5 with a .922 save percentage and two shutouts.

Assuming all goes according to plan, Rask will have started two of three game on Boston’s four-game homestand before Christmas. Coach Bruce Cassidy said before the stretch of home games started that the plan was for Rask to start three out of four. But that’s not written in cement, and Halak could earn a start in the pre-Christmas showdown with Washington on Monday.

“He could. Absolutely could,” Cassidy said.

And the Bruins aren’t averse to increasing Halak’s workload as the season moves along.

“We talked about playing Tuukka three of four this week, and we’re not necessarily running away from that. It’s also that time of the year, like we said with the players, with the D, with the forwards, and with the goalies, we’ve got to allow [them> to have an extended run if they deserve it,” Cassidy said. “We’ve talked about that. But until it happens where one dominates, we’ve kind of got to stick with our rotation. But we’re certainly not afraid to do that, we’d just like to see one take off here. They’re obviously a product of how we play in front of them as well. So that’s part of it too that you’ve got to factor in when you make those decisions.”

Missing Noel

No one could’ve seen this one coming: former Bruins forward Noel Acciari, whose previous NHL season high or goals was 10 in 2017-18, had his second straight hat trick Friday against Dallas. He had three goals against Ottawa on Monday and now has 11 goals on the season.

Cassidy coached Acciari in Boston and Providence of the AHL, and the Rhode Island native was always one of the coach’s favorites.

“Did you see the celebration on their bench after his hat trick? It just tells you what type of kid he is, right? It’s not so much that he’s a guy that normally does all the grunt work scoring, it’s about how happy they are for their teammate,” Cassidy said.

“Listen, we miss Noel. I think everyone will tell you – I don’t want to speak for [general manager Don Sweeney> – I think everyone wanted him back, it’s just a matter of fitting everybody in. And I don’t know what the ask was, I don’t know any of that stuff, but I’m saying like when we meet at the end of the year, yeah, he’s a guy I would like to have back, can we fit him in?”

Acciari left over the summer as an unrestricted free agent for a three-year deal worth $1.67 million per season. The Bruins weren’t hip to giving a fourth-line player a three-year deal at that money, but they’ve since re-upped with Acciari’s former linemate with Boston and the South Shore Kings for three years at $1.35 million per season.

Wagner scored a career-best 12 goals last season but he’s never had more than two goals in a NHL game.

“I’m happy for him, it’s cool. He’s getting some good bounces right now. When you’re hot, you’re hot,” Wagner said. “I texted him after the first one and said ‘that’s probably your first hat trick since we played on the Kings together.”

Lineup toggling

Cassidy shook up his fourth line Saturday, removing David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom from the lineup to put Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm in. … Connor Clifton, though, got to remain in the lineup in place of John Moore for the second straight game.

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