With season on the line, Rask can’t play in finale

AP Photo

This is the worst of times to lose your starting goaltender.

Boston is facing the Ottawa Senators this afternoon without Tuukka Rask due to an illness, per the team’s Twitter feed. As a result, the Bruins announced that they have summoned goaltender Jeremy Smith on an emergency basis and Jonas Gustavsson will play between the pipes.

Rask did join the Bruins for their warmup, but he barely participated and left it early.

Boston has leaned heavily on Rask this season, asking him to start in 62 games. In fact this is Jonas Gustavsson’s first start since March 18, although he has appeared twice since then in games that Rask didn’t complete.

Going into this game, Boston controls the second Wild Card seed, but it has just a one-point edge over Philadelphia and the Flyers have two contests left on their schedule. In other words, if the Bruins lose in regulation, then Philadelphia would need to get just two points over two games to boot Boston from the Wild Card race.

A Boston loss in regulation would also guarantee the Red Wings a playoff spot regardless of the outcome of Detroit’s game against the New York Rangers this afternoon. The Red Wings and Bruins are currently tied in terms of points, but Detroit controls the tiebreaker and thus holds the third Atlantic Division seed for now.