The Boston Bruins announced on Friday afternoon that goaltender Tuukka Rask has been granted a leave of absence relating to a personal matter.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the matter is not health related and that it is “important to respect his privacy and allow him to deal with it for the next few days.”
At this point the Bruins have not recalled a backup goaltender from their American Hockey League team in Providence, but are expected to do so Friday evening. Zane McIntyre is the only one of the two goalies in Providence with NHL experience having appeared in eight games during the 2016-17 season. They also have Daniel Vladar, a 2015 third-round draft pick, playing there.
Rask appeared in the Bruins’ 8-5 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, allowing three goals on 14 shots in just over 25 minutes of ice time.
It has been a tough start to the year for Rask on the ice as he has managed only a .901 save percentage in his eight appearances. Among the 36 goalies that have appeared in at least eight games, that places him 23rd in the NHL.
At this point it is not yet known how long Rask will be away from the team, but they do play two games this weekend when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday and Sunday before leaving on a four-game road trip next week.
As long as Rask is away, the starting goaltending duties will obviously fall on Jaroslav Halak who has played surprisingly well for the Bruins so far this season.
In his nine appearances he has a 4-1-2 record and an incredible .936 save percentage. It is a pretty stunning performance given how much he struggled a year ago for the New York Islanders. Outside of the Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, he has probably been the team’s best player so far. At the very least, he has been the biggest surprise. For now, it seems, they may have to rely on him even more.