Tuukka Rask practiced for the second straight day with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday and the goalie is expected to start against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday (4 p.m. ET; NHL.TV, SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-F).
“He’s got two good practice days in,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday. “So assuming nothing happens tonight, and he wakes up feeling good, he gets the start.”
Rask, who did not play in Boston’s round-robin opener, a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, returned to practice Monday after being quarantined for two days as a precaution against COVID-19. Rask said Monday he had a cough and had to have two negative tests before he could return.
Cassidy said he’ll see how Rask plays against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, before deciding whether he or goalie Jaroslav Halak will start against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, Boston’s final round-robin game to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.
“Some of those things will be determined by the schedule and how he feels, whether he plays Sunday or not,” Cassidy said. “There’s a lot of time between games. I don’t know when we start [the Stanley Cup Playoffs] either. If we play Sunday night and they turn around and start us Tuesday, is that enough time for Tuukka? It was our intention to have him play two of three. So, if we stick to that, then he would play Sunday.”
Rask is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goalie voted as the best goalie in the NHL. He was 26-8-6, led the League with a 2.12 goals-against average and was second with a .929 save percentage (minimum 30 games). Rask combined with Halak to win the William M. Jennings Trophy presented to the goalies from the team that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (167).
Halak made 25 saves in the loss to the Flyers on Sunday.
Center Patrice Bergeron , who did not practice Monday because of maintenance, and forward Ondrej Kase also practiced Tuesday.
Cassidy said Kase will not play against Tampa Bay on Wednesday but likely will play against Washington on Sunday. Forward Nick Ritchie, who missed the exhibition game and round-robin opener, will play Wednesday. Cassidy said Ritchie, acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for forward Danton Heinen on Feb. 24, will play left wing on the second line with center David Krejci and right wing Karson Kuhlman against Tampa Bay.
“I don’t need to think of it too much. It’s a hockey game,” said Ritchie, who scored a goal and an assist in seven games with the Bruins and 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 41 games with the Ducks. “Hopefully I can complement [Krejci] with the style I play and let his creativity combine with me, driving straight lines, driving the net, hopefully that works out for us tomorrow.”
Cassidy said left wing Anders Bjork, center Charlie Coyle and right wing Jake DeBrusk will make up Boston’s third line.