Under normal circumstances, Jaroslav Halak almost certainly would start for the Boston Bruins on Thursday. These are far from normal circumstances, however.
The Bruins outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes for a 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series Wednesday. With Game 2 scheduled for Thursday night in Toronto, the Bruins seemingly have a goalie decision to make.
It certainly would make sense to give Jaroslav Halak the start after Tuukka Rask played the entire game Wednesday, but that’s a decision the Bruins have yet to make.
“We’ll talk about tomorrow, tonight; we’re gonna let everyone enjoy this one,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game. “The one thing about today’s game is there wasn’t a lot of taxing stretches in our own end where goalies will fatigue and dehydrate. The penalty kill was pretty solid in that regard. We didn’t get stuck a lot in our end. That’s a big factor on the recovery of Tuukka.”
Rask indeed faced a relatively light workload, especially for a game that lasted more than 80 minutes. Carolina only put 28 shots on goal, and mustered no more than six shots in the first, second and overtime periods.
Also helping Rask’s case for a return to the cage Thursday is plenty of time to rest — inside the Toronto bubble. With Wednesday’s game ending in the mid-afternoon by virtue of its early start, Boston doesn’t have to play again until Game 2 at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
“(11 a.m.) start (on Tuesday). Don’t forget: A lot of the back-to-back games is (because) you’re traveling. You’re getting a poor night’s sleep and an early morning. Those won’t be the case in this particular back-to-back. Everyone should sleep well tonight, get some rest, so there’s that consideration, too. You’ve got two things that can tilt toward Tuukka getting the back-to-back starts. I’m not saying that’s gonna happen because the conversation needs to happen with him and (goalie coach Bob Essensa). If we feel Jaro gives us the best chance to win, we’ll certainly go that route.”
Given how good Halak was this season and last, the Bruins should feel good with either in net. But it sure sounds like Cassidy is leaning toward riding his No. 1 goalie in hopes of taking a 2-0 series lead.