Tuukka Rask returned to practice for the Boston Bruins on Monday, after being quarantined for two days as a precaution against COVID-19, and could play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Rask said he had a cough and had to have two negative tests before he could return.
“I think it’s just they want to be very cautious of that, if there’s any symptoms,” Rask said, “because obviously if you happen to test positive, meanwhile you’ve already spread it around for who knows how many guys.”
The goalie said he is now feeling better, though he still has a cough, and anticipates that he will be ready to start against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Wednesday (4 p.m. ET; NHL.TV, SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-F).
“I’ll be ready to go.”
Rask did not play in Boston’s round-robin opener against the Philadelphia Flyers, a 4-1 loss, on Sunday. The Bruins also play the Washington Capitals on Aug. 9 to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.
“Hopefully he progresses well and can get back in the net Wednesday,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
The NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The Qualifiers — eight best-of-5 series and two four team round-robins — began Aug. 1.
Rask is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the player voted as the best goalie in the NHL. He was 26-8-6, led the League with a 2.12 goals-against average and had a .929 save percentage. Rask combined with Jaroslav Halak to win the William M. Jennings Trophy presented to the goalies from the team that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (167).
The goalies split time in Boston’s 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in an exhibition game Thursday, with Rask allowing three goals on 20 shots in 29:54. Halak played the entire round-robin opener against the Flyers.
“It wasn’t easy to lay in your bed a couple days being quarantined,” Rask said. “You’re just trying to catch up, get your legs back under you and get ramping up again. A couple more games, round-robin, and I feel confident that within the next few days I’ll be back to normal.”
Patrice Bergeron did not practice with the Bruins on Monday, with Trent Frederic taking his spot on the top line with forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
“Maintenance day. That’s it,” Cassidy said. “He’s fine. He’ll get back on the ice tomorrow.”
Bergeron played 18:38 against the Flyers. The center, a finalist for the Selke Trophy awarded to the player voted as the top defensive forward in the League, scored 56 points (31 goals, 25 assists) in 61 games this season.
Cassidy said forward Ondrej Kase is unlikely to play Wednesday, but could be in the lineup against the Capitals, after joining the team in Toronto on Friday. Forward Nick Ritchie, who also missed the exhibition game and round-robin opener, could play Wednesday.