BOSTON — Tuukka Rask has been on a roll as of late, but after back-to-back starts against the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild, it made sense for him to sit Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.
Rask also had a poor first game against the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Opening Night when he allowed five goals in the 7-0 loss. His career numbers also are in favor of the Caps, so a well-rested Jaroslav Halak got the call.
But the start resulted in a 4-2 loss for the B’s and Halak. The loss, however, it certainly wasn’t because the Bruins didn’t put forth a solid effort. They held Washington to just 22 shots on net, 18 of which Halak turned away. At the other end of the ice, however, Boston bombarded Braden Holtby with 41 shots.
But did keeping the puck away from Halak so often cause the goalie to be rustier between the pipes?
“Not a concern at all when he doesn’t see a lot of rubber,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It means we’re playing well in front of him, to be honest with you, especially against this team. He saw lots – both goalies saw lots last time we played them, so that was part of the game plan, to limit that. We did that. Only he can answer whether he gets, loses, whatever word you want to use, if he gets stagnant, loses focus. Only the goalie can answer that question.
“Obviously, there’s one net. Tuukka’s (Rask) playing very well now. We’re trying to get him as many starts, so that’s obviously going to limit Jaro’s activity. So, when he’s in there he’s got to basically, as we said earlier in the year, outplay the other guy. That’s kind of been the mantra with a lot of players in our group, and that’s kind of where he’s at now if he wants to get more starts.”
Halak has played well for the most part when given the opportunity and didn’t lose on home ice until Nov. 8 against the Vancouver Canucks. The B’s also have struggled mightily against the Capitals, going 0-11-4 over their previous 14 meetings.
While Rask will get the start Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to believe Cassidy won’t call on Halak again sometime soon.