The Boston Bruins are approaching this season aware that it’s “full steam ahead” with Tuukka Rask, according to coach Bruce Cassidy, after the goalie made the decision to leave the bubble for family reasons during last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” Cassidy said Wednesday. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”
Rask left Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference in the postseason, on Aug. 15 and later told the Boston Herald that he made the decision because of a medical emergency with his daughter.
The Bruins turned to goalie Jaroslav Halak and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five games in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the second round.
“I think Tuukka, he can speak for himself,” Cassidy said. “But I think he just wants to get back in the net and play hockey and play well and give us a chance to win. Probably nobody more excited on our team to [be] getting back in there. I would assume that Tuukka would sort of say hey, I’m still the goalie I was last year and I’m ready to go. Family’s good, I’m good. Everyone’s in a good place. Let’s play hockey.”
Rask, who was voted a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL last season, led the League with a 2.12 goals-against average and was 26-8-6 with a .929 save percentage in 41 games. He was 1-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .904 save percentage in the postseason.
Cassidy also said forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak remain on schedule after offseason surgery.
Marchand underwent sports hernia surgery Sept. 14 and was scheduled to make a full recovery in approximately four months, which would put him on target to return in mid-January. Pastrnak underwent a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16. His recovery was expected to take approximately five months, putting him in line for mid-February.
The NHL is targeting Jan. 1 to start the season.
“They’re on schedule. They may even be ahead of schedule, for all I know,” Cassidy said. “I just know how hard those two guys work as well. … Guys that train hard will probably stay on schedule, or at least get a little bit ahead.
“So, I guess we’re optimistic right now where their progress is. The unknown becomes [that] it’s hard to project what game they’ll be in because we don’t know when our first game is, right? So that’s the other part of this. Right now, we’re expecting to have them early in the season. But I don’t know, until we get the schedules, it’s hard to say that they’ll miss this amount of time or that amount of time.”
Pastrnak tied Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals last season and had 47 assists for an NHL career-high 95 points. He scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 playoff games. Marchand scored 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 70 games last season and 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 13 postseason games.