Goalie nods: After Cherry’s ‘can’t stop a beach ball’ remark, Rask starts for B’s

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No shortage of storylines at play tonight in Boston.

The B’s have just three games left in their regular season. They’re fighting for their playoff lives. And with crucial points on the line, they’ll start Tuukka Rask when they host the ‘Canes at TD Garden.

Rask, of course, is coming off a disastrous outing in Chicago, in which he was hooked after allowing four goals on 22 shots.

That, of course, came after a leaky performance in St. Louis, in which he got the win — but still allowed five goals on 30 shots.

All those goals against prompted a stinging criticism by Hockey Night in Canada personality and ex-B’s coach Don Cherry, who on Monday tweeted out that Rask “can’t stop a beach ball.”

While the beach ball remark was a bit much, this definitely hasn’t been a banner year from the Finnish netminder. Rask’s .915 save percentage and 2.60 GAA are well off his career averages (.924 and 2.25, respectively), but that’s a byproduct of a depleted Boston blueline, one that’s been whittled down over the last few years and is currently Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller.

Rask will need to get better, in a hurry, if Boston wants to get back into the postseason after missing a year ago. Defensive issues or no, he’s posted three straight games with ugly save percentages (.867 versus New Jersey, .833 versus St. Louis, .818 versus Chicago) and can’t afford a fourth against the ‘Canes.

For Carolina, Cam Ward starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Cory Schneider makes his second start after returning from injury when the Devils host the Sabres. Chad Johnson goes for Buffalo.

Thomas Greiss played, and won, last night against the Bolts, so we don’t know who will go for the Isles tonight in Washington. It’s Braden Holtby for the Caps.

Matt Murray once again fills in for the ailing Marc-Andre Fleury for Pittsburgh. The Sens will start Andrew Hammond.

Roberto Luongo takes on Mike Condon as the Panthers face the Habs in Montreal.

— Neither the Bolts nor the Rangers had morning skates (both played last night), so no word on who’ll be in goal.

Semyon Varlamov hopes to keep Colorado’s meager playoff chances alive in Nashville. Looks like Pekka Rinne will go for the Preds.

— The in-form James Reimer gets another start for the Sharks, who are in Minnesota. The Wild are starting Devan Dubnyk.

Louis Domingue versus Scott Darling as Arizona invades Chicago.

— No word on a Kings starter in Calgary yet, but Joni Ortio, fresh off a shutout against Edmonton, is in goal for the Flames.

— In the late game, the Jets will go with Michael Hutchinson in Anaheim. The Ducks are still waiting on Frederik Andersen to get back to full health, so John Gibson starts once again.