While the Bruins hum along in the middle of the Atlantic Division with 22 points in 19 games, one area of concern may soon be getting a boost in the form of an old friend.
Tuukka Rask has been skating at the Bruins’ practice facility the past few weeks as he works his way back from surgery on his right hip. The 34-year-old, who is currently an unrestricted free agent, said over the summer that if he plays again in the NHL he only wants it to be in Boston.
With that being the case the Bruins are holding a door open for him should be get back to 100% health within the next month or so. The fact is they could use the goaltending help as Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have a combined .908 5-on-5 save percentage, per Natural Stat Trick.
“They’ve been OK,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said of his goaltending duo. “They both have had really, really strong pockets of games, and other times where they haven’t played as well as they would like in some situations. And we have higher expectations for everybody. So I don’t think Linus and Jeremy would say it any differently than I am.”
What is a timeline for Rask being ready to return? ESPN’s Sean McDonough said during Friday’s Bruins loss to the Rangers that Rask told him he is starting to skate five times a week and hopes to be back playing in early January.
The Bruins have 13 games in December and 17 in the new year before the Olympic break. That’s a heavy workload for the current duo, and adding someone like Rask could help with rest during an important stretch of their season.
“There’s been a general understanding that Tuukka has to make a decision on his health first and foremost,” said Sweeney. “And when he’s able to do that officially and declare himself that this is what he wants to do and play then we’ll find the common ground. We have not hidden from that fact that if indeed he is healthy and wants to play, then he’s likely to be a part of our group.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.
TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.
The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.
“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”
The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.
Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.