Tuukka Rask‘s return to action on Saturday didn’t last long, but he might not have to wait much longer for another chance.
Rask, who hadn’t played since Dec. 15, got the start against Buffalo on Saturday. Not surprisingly, Rask showed some rust after not playing for seven straight games and didn’t get much of a chance to regain his rhythm as he was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period.
But Rask was the first goalie off the ice at Monday’s morning skate in Toronto, usually the indication of who will be starting that night. If Rask does start as expected, it will be the first time this season he’s started in consecutive games. It would also mark a change in course from Sunday, when Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t appear to have much faith in the current state of Rask’s game.
“I’d say it’s more confidence now … head stuff,” Julien told the Boston Globe on Sunday. “Mechanically, he’s a sound goaltender … he needs to build his confidence back up.”
Rask is only 2-7-1 with a 2.79 goals-against average this year, but he does have a solid .922 save percentage and has had plenty of success against the team that originally drafted him. Rask, Toronto’s first-round pick in 2005 before being dealt to Boston for Andrew Raycroft in 2006, is 4-1-0 with a 1.78 GAA and a .943 save percentage against the Leafs.
The Bruins could also have center Greg Campbell back on Monday. Campbell missed the last two games with an illness, but returned to practice Sunday. He remained weakened by the stomach ailment then, but was in better shape on Monday morning and will be a game-time decision.
“We’ll probably make that final decision [Monday night], but he’s feeling a lot better today,” Julien told reporters in Toronto on Monday. “I talked to him this morning and he ate well yesterday, slept well last night and this morning is looking a lot better, so probably a positive sign.”
If Campbell is back, Julien will likely reunite the “energy line” of Campbell, Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton and move Tyler Seguin back up alongside Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Seguin had his first multi-point outing on Saturday with a goal and an assist against the Sabres.
Seguin will be in the spotlight in Toronto. Not only is he a native of the area, but he was selected second overall in the 2010 draft with the first of three picks acquired from the Leafs for Phil Kessel. Toronto fans and media continue to fan the “what if” flames for Seguin, who could have been the centerpiece of a Leafs rebuilding project without that deal.
Daniel Paille would likely be the healthy scratch if Campbell plays. If Campbell is unable to play again, Marchand would likely stay on Bergeron’s line, with Seguin remaining at center between Paille and Thornton.
For the Leafs, Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start in goal despite James Reimer posting his first career win with an impressive 32-save performance in a 5-1 victory over Ottawa on Saturday. It definitely won’t be Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who returned to practice on Sunday but remains about a week away from being ready for game action as he recovers from a groin injury.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-Marc Savard-Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Blake Wheeler-David Krejci-Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand-Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Steven Kampfer
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Daniel Paille, Mark Stuart (hand)
Projected Maple Leafs lines
Nikolai Kulemin-Mikhail Grabovski-Clarke MacArthur
Joey Crabb-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Colby Armstrong-Darryl Boyce-Kris Versteeg
Fredrik Sjostrom-Tim Brent-Colton Orr
Francois Beauchemin-Dion Phaneuf
Tomas Kaberle-Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson-Mike Komisarek
Scratches: John Mitchell, Brett Lebda