The Boston Bruins goaltending situation got even more precarious on Friday when it was announced that Tuukka Rask would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter. Since the beginning of the season, Rask has battled back-and-forth with Jaroslav Halak in the Boston crease for the starters role and will now leave duties to Halak for at least a little while before returning. The Bruins are currently clinging to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after dropping Thursday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks 8-5. Rask was used in relief and surrendered three goals on 14 shots. His leave is, according to general manager Don Sweeney, not injury related.
Don Sweeney says Charlie McAvoy has been in concussion protocol since October 18th. Sweeney also says Tuukka Rask has been granted a leave of absence and requested all respect the players’ privacy.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) November 9, 2018
Tuukka Rask to Take Leave of Absence Due to Personal Matter
Rask’s season has not started the way he would’ve liked after finishing the 2017-18 campaign with another steady season. He ended the year with an impressive 2.36 goals-against-average, finished seventh in Vezina voting, and made Boston one of the Eastern Conference contenders entering into the playoffs. Now in 2018, the script has completely flipped.
Many projected Boston to have another successful season this year and Rask is posting perhaps his worst season to date. So far in 2018-19, the veteran has posted a .901 save percentage and a 3.05 goals-against-average. He has also been losing out to Halak in the starts category, currently trailing his counterpart eight to seven.
How Does This Affect the Bruins?
The Bruins have stumbled out of the gate in the first quarter of the season. They started a solid 4-1-0 but have since dropped six of their last 10 games (two in overtime). Their first line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand is once again powering the team as each player has 17 or more points in their first 15 games. Besides to this line, there is little input from the rest of the Bruins team. They are averaging the sixth-least amount of shots per game and without solid goaltending, will be playing a lot of catch-up going forward.
Before Rask’s injury, Halak was forcing Bruce Cassidy‘s hand to start the Slovakian goaltender after having seven straight solid outings since game-one of the season. Unfortunately, he had his worst start of the year in his last start — giving up five goals on just 19 shots.
If Halak can continue the form he had shown prior to his matchup against the Canucks, the Bruins should have no problems in goal. If he falters, Boston’s depth scoring is going to have to find ways to chip in on offence as Rask’s timetable to return is up in the air.
Main Photo: BOSTON, MA – MAY 2: Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)