Ex-NHL Goalie Offers Measured Take On Play Of Tuukka Rask, Bruins’ Situation In Net

Rask has had some good and not-so-good moments so far

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It’s tough to get a great read on Tuukka Rask right now, which is to be expected.

The expectation never was that Rask would be able to snap back into vintage form after not playing a game for seven months and having hip surgery. However, he’s had some rough moments since returning to game action for the Boston Bruins, despite some occasional positive flashes.

For now, the Bruins are staying the course with Rask, as they should, and he’ll likely be in net Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

Rask only has made four starts since returning, and former NHL goalie Mike McKenna, now an analyst for Daily Faceoff, offered one of the more measured, nuanced takes you’ll find on Rask.

“I actually think Tuukka’s got about a dozen games to get this thing going, and that leads them clear through almost the trade deadline,” McKenna said on “The Suitcase and The Scribe” podcast. “The first game he came back against Philly I thought he looked good, no problem. And then the last three haven’t been good at all. He’s not tracking the puck well, he’s not fighting through traffic, like the things that I see from a goaltender getting back into his groove and that’s expected. That’s not just him being lazy, it’s just what happens when you haven’t played in a long time. You have to get back used to it.

“I think it’s just a security blanket for him, having (Linus) Ullmark being that good so far, and (Jeremy) Swayman. This is a team that has three goalies. And all these trade talks about moving goalies, I don’t see any value in having less than three good goaltenders in your system if you’re a playoff team. I don’t.

“And I think really the defining factor here is going to be how Tuukka feels. Tuukka’s going to be the one to be able to say at 10 or 12 games ‘I just haven’t been great.’ Of course, your pride is going to say I can get back to this, I can be my best. But you know when you’re not going, and it’ll be interesting for me to see how that plays out. Is he going to play next year, further, who knows? There’s a lot in the air there because he only wants to be a Bruin, but they were smart to protect themselves in getting Ullmark. I was surprised at that contract, but he’s a good goalie and he’s been able to stay pretty healthy this year so far.”

Obviously, the Bruins will be a better team if they can get Rask rolling. If the Bruins stick to a strict every other game rotation with Rask and Ullmark, the former will hit a dozen starts March 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The good news for Boston is that it’s banked points and is in a good position in the standings. While the Bruins can’t wait forever for Rask to get right, they have the luxury of being able to take a patient approach with him.

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