Massive game in Brooklyn on Saturday night when the New York Islanders will be hosting the Boston Bruins in a key game in the Eastern Conference wild card race.
The day is already off to a bad start for the Bruins, losers of four in a row, when coach Bruce Cassidy announced that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask did not make the trip with the team and will not be available for the game. Anthon Khudobin will get the start in his place, while Zane McIntyre has been recalled from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.
Cassidy said that Rask is dealing with a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day.
Rask did not practice with the team on Friday.
It is a massive game as both teams enter the night tied in the standings with 82 points. But because the Islanders have played one fewer game, they currently occupy the second wild card spot. They are both just one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in what is now pretty much a three-team race for that spot. It is the last meeting of the season between the two teams (Boston does play Tampa Bay once more).
Overall it has been another frustrating season for Rask, whose .910 save percentage is currently the worst of his career. He has really struggled during the Bruins’ current four-game losing streak, giving up 15 goals during that stretch.
Khudobin, meanwhile, has been on a bit of a roll for the Bruins in his recent starts following a terrible start to the season. He has won each of his past four starts, allowing just eight goals.
The Islanders are coming off of a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh on Friday night against the Penguins with Jaroslav Halak making his return to the team and picking up the win.
Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins
The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.
The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.
It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.
After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”
In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.
It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.
Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.
No Tuukka Rask on the ice this morning for practice. Getting some rest now because undoubtedly B's will be riding him for final 8 games
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.
Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.