Boston should make Rask their No.1 goalie

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Sure, it’s just one game, but seeing Tim Thomas get pulled in the first period after allowing three New Jersey Devils goals makes me think that the Boston Bruins should suck it up and make young goalie Tuukka Rask their true No. 1 goalie down the stretch. No doubt about it, this isn’t the ideal situation, but considering their paper-thin lead over the Rangers, sometimes you have to do what makes you uncomfortable.

When Thomas signed a four year, $20 million extension during his Vezina trophy winning season, my biggest criticisms had to with the unorthodox goalie’s age. I thought: sure, he’s playing great right now, but goalies age like boxed wine (he’ll turn 36 on April 15). If Thomas flops (uh, in the wrong direction, that is) during this contract, the Bruins can’t get rid of his cap hit with a buyout. In other words, he needs to appear to be a franchise goalie to someone even if the Bruins are no longer convinced. So Boston isn’t crazy for giving Thomas a long leash.


Now, all that “big picture” talk might be hasty. It’s not as if the Bruins’ only question is goaltending, being that they’ve struggled mightily to score goals. It’s quite possible that Thomas can rebound to his once-elite form next season or even figure it out as the year closes out.

But, honestly, the Bruins don’t have much time to explore the studio space. Taking a look at the numbers from NBC sports, Rask bests Thomas in just about every relevant goalie category (stat nerds and sportswriters, for once, can stop exchanging angry e-mails and faxes!). 

Tuukka Rask: 32 games played, 15-9, 2.14 GAA, .927 save percentage and 4 shutouts

Tim Thomas: 39 games played, 15-16, 2.51 GAA, .916 save percentage and 3 shutouts

Perhaps the league learned how to exploit Thomas thanks to another year of tape on the unusual goalie. Maybe he’s struggling to live up to his Vezina trophy and fancy new contract. Or, maybe, Rask’s stoic Finnish goaltending is a better fit for the grind-it-out style the Bruins seem forced to play.

Either way, it seems to me at least, that they should give Rask most of the starts and worry about the longer term future later. What do you think, though? Should the Bruins stay the course or give Rask the No.1 job?

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.