What Bruce Cassidy has planned for Tuukka Rask’s workload

Matt Kalman
January 08, 2019 - 11:25 pm

Tuukka Rask’s reward for his first shutout of the season is going to be a game off.

“Washington coming in (Thursday) is a little different, we haven’t had much success against them,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after a 4-0 win against Minnesota at TD Garden on Tuesday. “So we’re leaning towards, I’ll tell you flat out, (Jaroslav) Halak because he hasn’t started against them in a Bruins uniform. So kind of like Anaheim (a 3-1 win on Dec. 20), you throw the different guy in there to get a result. So nothing, that would be it, just a switch and get Jaro his games.”

Halak may get the plum assignment of facing the defending Stanley Cup-champion Capitals, who famously romped over the Bruins 7-0 on opening night in D.C., but it sounds like Rask’s recent play has convinced Cassidy & Co. to ride the Finn’s play the majority of the time in the second half.

Cassidy didn’t want to say that Rask’s play – five goals allowed during a personal four-game winning streak – has “won the net back” but he did give Rask a vote of confidence that he’s at least the 1A in the Bruins’ 1A/1B goaltender tandem.

“But yes, Tuukka’s now earning, I think … more starts. And we’ll see how he runs with it,” Cassidy said.

Rask has started four of the Bruins’ past five games. Since he returned from his leave of absence and lost 1-0 at Dallas on Nov. 16, he has a .930 save percentage, which is third in the NHL among goalies that have played at least 10 games in that span.

Halak hasn’t been shabby, with his .927 save percentage this season. But the natural order of things is starting to fall into place.

Rask believes he’s ready to carry the load.

“I mean, yeah, sure, I think I pretty much feel like the season hasn’t even started yet because that’s how fresh I feel I guess. So it’s a good sign,” the 31-year-old said.

Chest full of success

You won’t see many goals stranger than Jake DeBrusk’s score at 19:15 of the first period. Patrice Bergeron’s shot went off DeBrusk’s chest and into the net.

DeBrusk’s surprised reaction was priceless. But he actually made a heads up play not to get his stick up above the crossbar for what would have been an illegal tip.

“I didn’t know if it was going to hit me in the face or I didn’t know what was going to happen,” DeBrusk said. “So I just kind of originally wanted to tip it and I was going to and I just saw it kind of coming near the crossbar I guess, and I just kind of turned. To be honest I don’t really know what I did, it just kind of went in. It was nice to see that one go in and obviously pretty shocked for sure.”

McAvoy on the mend

Cassidy said Charlie McAvoy, who has missed six games with a lower-body injury, is scheduled to join the Bruins for practice Wednesday. He has been skating on his own this week.

Related: Brad Marchand on talk with Charlie McAvoy: 'It’s not a big deal'