Jaroslav Halak’s made an impact last season without ever appearing in the playoffs.
That all but certainly will change this season.
Halak in 2018-19 made his mark with the Boston Bruins by playing a near-equal amount to Tuukka Rask in the regular season, thus allowing Rask to be plenty fresh in time for the postseason. But with the unusual circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the current campaign, it seems likely we’ll see the backup at some point.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Tuesday indicated that Halak will, in fact, take part in the round-robin tournament in some capacity. But his usage in those three games, and beyond that, remains to be seen.
“Jaro will play in the round-robin,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “You have to get him ready as well as Tuukka. I don’t know how exactly it will play out yet, but he’ll get in there, we need him ready for the playoffs as well — both of them — and you need live action to do that. And I think Tuukka understands that part of it. So how much and how we divide it up, that’ll be (determined as we get closer).”
Cassidy also indicated the two netminders might split time in Boston’s exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets next week.
As for Halak, he’s not entirely sure how exactly he’ll be used just yet, either.
“I’m just going to take it day-by-day,” Halak said Tuesday afternoon. “I haven’t been told anything, so I’m open-minded to pretty much anything. It’s going to be unique for everyone, every team is in the same situation, every goalie and we all have to shift the focus right now from having the three months, four months off to kind of dialed in again and starting to play real games. I think it’s going to be fun, but it’s gonna take a few games to get back into that rhythm and I’m whatever happens happens. I always say, we are here as a team, and whether it’s with me or Tuukks in net, we want to win and that’s the case now.”
The Bruins are in the enviable position where putting Halak into a round-robin game that has some significance doesn’t mean Boston’s waving the white flag, rather they have an equally adept netminder to Rask that also needs to get sharpened up.
Here are some other notes from Tuesday.
— Though it hasn’t prevented him from taking part in Phase 3, and even part of Phase 2, Rask has been dealing with a fractured finger.
The netminder was asked about a splint he was spotted wearing Friday during a Zoom call, and he indicated that he had suffered a small fracture of the finger after hurting it doing box jumps.
However, Rask downplayed the ailment, saying he’s pretty much fine already and isn’t expecting to miss time.
Prior to Rask’s media availability, Cassidy was asked about the splint and the coach offered a joke in response. So, again, doesn’t sound like anyone is overly concerned.
— The Bruins had a number of notable absences in Tuesday’s session.
David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase remained out, while Charlie McAvoy missed his second straight practice and Joakim Nordstrom was not around for his second in four days.
It’s unclear why exactly each player was unavailable, but Cassidy does hope at least some will be back for Wednesday’s skate.
— The four absences did allow the Cassidy to mess with the lines a little bit, which led to some interesting results.
Jack Studnicka got a shot on the first line right wing, skating alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Anton Blidh got an opportunity to take rushes with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the second line, while Connor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen took turns as Zdeno Chara’s defensive partner on the first pairing.
— The Bruins will return to practice Wednesday, but Cassidy cautioned against making sweeping judgments about who is and is not there, as it’s expected to be a maintenance day for many players.
— And, finally, here are some highlights from Tuesday’s session
Here are some highlights from Bruins practice this afternoon.
Video via the team. pic.twitter.com/B4TOFlnBiw
— Logan Mullen (@ByLoganMullen) July 21, 2020