Rask progressing toward reunion with Bruins, could soon play in AHL

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Tuukka Rask is making progress toward a reunion with the Boston Bruins and could play for their American Hockey League affiliate in Providence this weekend.

The unrestricted free agent goalie is expected to continue practicing with Boston this week while he awaits medical clearance. Rask had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in late July and has been working out at the Bruins practice facility through his rehab. 

“I think everything else is on schedule,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday. “Obviously it depends on when is he cleared for live action, it doesn’t matter if it’s the American League or the NHL, he needs to be cleared. So that’s the next hurdle for him is clearance to play.”

The 34-year-old has not signed a contract with the Bruins, his agent, Markus Lehto, told Boston Hockey Now. He won’t travel to Tampa or Washington on their upcoming road trip scheduled to begin Saturday. The Bruins host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SNP, NESN, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

“I think there will be a conversation then with [general manager Don Sweeney] about Providence,” Cassidy said. “I think it’s the best opportunity for him to get live action.”

Providence plays Friday and Sunday at home against Lehigh Valley. 

Rask was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 24 games last season. The Bruins have been using goalies Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark this season. Swayman is 8-5-0 with a 2.20 GAA, .920 save percentage and one shutout in 15 starts. Ullmark is 8-5-0 with a 2.55 GAA and .919 save percentage in 13 starts.

The Bruins (16-10-2) are fourth in the Atlantic Division, 13 points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

“He certainly looks the part out there right now,” Cassidy said. “He’s come along very well. You’re never sure with surgery how it’ll go, complications, etc. He got through it, put the work in. I’ve seen him in the gym every morning here when it’s his scheduled time, so clearly he’s taking it seriously and wants to rehab as quickly as possible. So credit him, 100 percent, for his work ethic through this whole thing. Looks good on the ice and time will tell how that translates.”

Rask, who has played his entire 14-season NHL career for the Bruins, is their leader in wins (306) and second in shutouts (52) behind Tiny Thompson (74), with a 2.27 GAA and .921 save percentage in 560 NHL games (540 starts). He was the backup to Tim Thomas when Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011, then was the No. 1 goalie when the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, a six-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and 2019, a seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues.

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