But the last thing that needs to be done at this juncture is to make some sort of reactionary move or sweeping change of the approach with Rask. Don’t staple him to the bench and trot out only Linus Ullmark. Don’t call up Jeremy Swayman.
Ullmark will be in net Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche, which makes sense. But Rask should be in net Friday against the Arizona Coyotes, and maybe even Sunday against the Dallas Stars.
It would have been unreasonable to not expect any rust from Rask. In a way, his sharp performance in his first game back might have hurt him, as it set the bar higher than where he reasonably was at. The Bruins will be a better team when Rask gets right, so continuing to play him — and play him often — is basically the only choice Boston has.
Rask has played four games so far in his return, and there have been some vintage moments, as well as some plays where he didn’t look like himself. This should’ve been expected, and what matters most is that he has shown encouraging flashes. The consistency always was going to be the last thing to arrive.
Although Rask admitted there’s not much room for the Bruins to throw away games by letting him stumble, Boston does have a little bit of runway. There are some soft matchups coming up in the schedule, like the Coyotes and Seattle Kraken. Cassidy should be rolling Rask out there and let him figure it out against bad teams, as well as some good ones. The netminder seems to be holding up fine physically, which is reason to believe the issue simply is rust. With time, that can sort itself out, but the Bruins have to keep playing him for that to happen.
See it for the big picture: Rask was good against the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets. He wasn’t great against the Carolina Hurricanes, but that game was far and away the Bruins’ worst defensive performance of the season. The loss to the Ducks was objectively bad.
More often than not, Rask has been good. Still, he went seven months between games, and in that time had major surgery. He needs time to get back up to the level he’s capable of playing at, and the only way to get him there is by continuing to start him and let him work through the issues that arise. If performances like Monday happen consistently, then there will be a need to reevaluate.
But we’re still a ways away from that even needing to be on the radar.