The Boston Bruins made a gutsy decision with pending restricted free agent Tuukka Rask going into 2013: let him prove he’s worth a new contract.
While he’s been successful when given opportunities (aside from that one series against the Philadelphia Flyers, maybe?), the 26-year-old’s resume was still pretty light. GM Peter Chiarelli told CSNNE.com that the Finnish netminder has proven himself with this deep playoff run.
“I’m happy for him that he’s playing well and he’s helping the team,” said Chiarelli. “It’s always easier to sign these guys after success. He’s showing some resiliency, which I like, and some durability, which I like.”
While Chiarelli indicates that it will be easier to make the decision to keep him, it certainly won’t be cheaper. The Bruins have the leverage advantage that comes with Rask being a restricted free agent, yet his price tag likely goes up with each playoff victory.
Rask is likely the headliner of an offseason with some significant questions, particularly when it comes to fellow free agents such as Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference and Anton Khudobin.
Regardless, Chiarelli likes that Rask is coming through in plenty of make-or-break situations.
“I liked [Rask’s] big saves,” Chiarelli said. “We had some real good games where, I’d have to go back and look, but I think we had a chance in every game. The last game, he had those two saves in the third. Not part of sustained pressure. You see a bunch of saves, it’s like point-blank [Ryan] Callahan to [Rick] Nash. Those are big saves. His ability to bounce back from the game before … I like that. It really is about the surges. I like that we’re seeing more of the same.”
Seeing more of it in 2013-14 and beyond could prove costly.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.
After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:
Record at the end of October: 5-5-2
Record at the end of November: 11-11-3
As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.
The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?
Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.
They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.
The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?
Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.