Tuukka Rask missed Friday's practice. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask missed Friday’s practice. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Already deep into what will be a guaranteed stressful finish to their season, the Bruins are hoping some rest and relaxation will be the key for their best player one day before their biggest game of the season.

Tuukka Rask, absent from Friday’s practice with what the team has termed a maintenance day, and for the second day in a row as the team had a scheduled off day Thursday, but is expected to be ready for the Black and Gold tomorrow night against the Maple Leafs.

“We expect him to be in goal,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who has deployed Rask as the starter for 43 of 54 games this year (Rask has been available in 51 games). “We’d like to get Tuukka maybe less games than he’s had, but at the same time we can’t worry about what it’s gonna be like a month from now, we gotta worry about right now.”

The 29-year-old Rask, who was an All-Star along with Brad Marchand, did not get last weekend off like most of his Bruins teammates, and his game has taken a substantial dip in the calendar year, with just six wins and an .874 save percentage since the start of January. Wednesday night in Washington, a game in which Rask stopped just 17 of 22 shots thrown his way, was perhaps the worst he’s looked this year, at least from a ‘freshness’ standpoint.

But the Bruins hope that a fortunate schedule can bring the best out of the team’s ticket to postseason contention.

“Right now is an important part of the schedule, but it’s also part of the schedule where we’re getting a lot of breaks,” Julien said Friday. “[After Saturday], there’s four more days without a game, then there’s three, and then there’s five more days without a game, so we’re going to do everything we can to give [Tuukka] his rest.”

Rask has 25 wins and a .914 save percentage in 43 games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Bruins winger Frank Vatrano joined WEEI.com’s Josh Dolan following Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The two were also bombed by two of Vatrano’s teammates not long into the interview.

Follow WEEI on Facebook for more live videos and the latest news and updates on the Bruins.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron and ace goaltender Tuukka Rask could not be found on the ice for Friday’s Bruins practice in Brighton.

Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask were not on the ice for Friday's practice. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask were not on the ice for Friday’s practice. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron and ace goaltender Tuukka Rask could not be found on the ice for Friday’s Bruins practice in Brighton.

Bergeron, dinged up in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals when a Matt Niskanen slapshot blasted off the inside of his knee, has been labeled with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. It’s worth noting that Bergeron did attempt to come back from the injury with the Bruins down by two, but retreated back to the room after just two shifts and ended the night with 16:24 of time on ice.

The 31-year-old Bergeron missed the first three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury and battled a lower-body injury to finish last year and has 12 goals and 26 points in 51 games this season.

Ryan Spooner skated in his spot between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak in his place, while Austin Czarnik took his spot on line three.

Meanwhile, the Bruins have called Friday’s absence a maintenance day for the 29-year-old Rask, who said he ‘popped’ his groin late in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals.

Rask is 25-13-4 with a .914 save percentage this season.

The Bruins’ backups have combined for just one win in 12 decisions this season. 2017 AHL All-Star Zane McIntyre, the current backup, has an 0-3-1 record and .860 save percentage in seven games for the Big B’s this season.

The Bruins are back in action Saturday night against the Maple Leafs.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Less than a month from the NHL trade deadline, the Bruins are alive in the playoff race and active in the trade market.

The Bruins and Rangers are among those most interested in Kevin Shattenkirk. (Billy Hurst/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Rangers are among those most interested in Kevin Shattenkirk. (Billy Hurst/USA Today Sports)

Less than a month from the NHL trade deadline, the Bruins are alive in the playoff race and active in the trade market.

Although their current group has managed to keep the team afloat into February, the Bruins could use another scoring presence on their wings (particularly one who could help team score some five-on-five goals on a more consistent basis) or another top-four defenseman.

And while everything is still seemingly in the beginning stages of ‘silly season’, the Bruins have been linked to Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog multiple times, and the idea of acquiring Blues defender Kevin Shattenkirk has been a two-year plot that continues to thicken.

The latter’s name popped up once again in regards to the Bruins on TSN’s latest edition of Insider Trading, too.

Although there are ‘several’ teams monitoring Shattenkirk’s situation with the Blues, who fired head coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday, Pierre LeBrun mentioned both the Bruins and Rangers as two teams that have significant interest in Shattenkirk.

A pending unrestricted free agent, the general and original consensus regarding a Shattenkirk trade seemed to center around the idea that it would be a sign-and-trade that would keep the 28-year-old in town with whatever team traded for him long after the stretch run. But LeBrun added that no team has proposed such a plan yet, meaning that any calls made to Blues GM Doug Armstrong from Don Sweeney have been about the Black and Gold simply renting Shattenkirk for the rest of the season.

That’s a risky proposition for the Bruins for a number of reasons. The biggest being that the expected price to be paid to acquire Shattenkirk (the Blues wanted David Pastrnak and two first-rounds picks last June, and while there’s no way they would ask for that same package, it would still be something that would make the Bruins think twice) is going to be gigantic, and the fact that the Bruins do not become anything close to Cup favorites — or even playoff locks, for that matter — with Shattenkirk plugged into their lineup for the final 20 games of the season doesn’t help. The elephant in the room, too, is that he’s probably going to test the market this summer no matter what the Bruins offer given the league’s undying need for right-handed, offensive defensemen.

Armstrong’s situation is a tricky one, as the Blues remain in the playoff picture and in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference as of right now, but are in a spot where getting something for Shattenkirk while they still can may outweigh the pros of holding onto him for one last playoff run led by the hope that the Blues’ goaltending situation resolves itself.

A native of New Rochelle, N.Y., Shattenkirk has 11 goals and 34 points in 50 games for the Blues this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Future Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla made the right call three summers ago when he left the Bruins to cash in with the Avalanche.

Now he’s hoping the Avalanche will make the right call on him.

Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded by the deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded to a playoff contender before next month’s trade deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Future Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla made the right call three summers ago when he left the Bruins to cash in with the Avalanche.

Now he’s hoping the Avalanche will make the right call on him.

In the final year of a three-year deal signed back in 2014, and with the Avalanche in dead last in the entire NHL with just 13 wins and a minus-72 goal differential in 48 games this year, the 39-year-old wants a trade out of the Rocky Mountains to return to a contender.

“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla told Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog on Wednesday. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”

Iginla’s last chance to win it all came with the Presidents’ Trophy winning Bruins in 2014, when he contributed five goals and seven points in 12 games en route to a second-round series loss to the Canadiens. Iginla likely would have remained in town, too, had the Bruins been able to offer a multi-year deal (the Bruins were so tight against the cap that they could only offer Iginla another one-year, bonus-laden contract). The contract length was something of significant importance to Iginla given his age (it was going to be his last big deal and he had already love some money on the tables with a couple of NHL lockouts), as was his desire for stability for his family, which was something he got with the Avs.

But as the Avs prepare their search to find Iginla a new landing spot for the stretch run, you have to wonder if such a search would involve, or at least entertain, the idea of the veteran Iginla reuniting with the Black and Gold for another go.

 

The Bruins are a playoff team (for the moment, anyways) and sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, but their need for secondary scoring remains a dire one. If Iginla came back to the Bruins, the B’s would have the option to either put him back with Krejci, the center that helped him score 30 goals in 2013-14 and in a corresponding move send David Backes back to the third line and create a potentially dangerous three-line unit, or move Iginla in a complementary scoring/power-play presence on your third line and give Ryan Spooner a physical, scoring threat to his right side, which is something he’s simply never had. No matter the move, it would be one that focuses on giving the Bruins three offensively capable lines that Claude Julien can roll out and keep up with the Penguins, Capitals, and Rangers of the world in a seven-game series come April and May.

But there’s also been some chatter of weighing the need for a scorer versus the need for another top-four defenseman. And it almost goes without saying that the price paid for either one will probably be the biggest factor in any deal made or nixed.

There’s a plus when it comes to hammering out a potential deal with the Avalanche, and it’s with the fact that the Black and Gold have some familiarity with Avalanche GM Joe Sakic this season. And although those talks have focused heavily on Gabriel Landeskog (and/or possibly Matt Duchene), Bruins general manager Don Sweeney likely has an idea as to what the Avalanche are looking for in a trade. He would also not have to pay the premium of trading a Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy if you’re talking about Iginla instead of a player like Duchene or Landeskog. (The Avalanche, by the way, are in massive need for defensive personnel, be it at the NHL level or further down the road.) And with just six goals and 12 points in 48 games this year, Iginla’s stock is probably at an all-time low — at least compared to what it was the last time Iginla was on the trade market back in 2013 when the Bruins’ bid fell short because Iginla wanted to go the Penguins — and that seemingly bodes well for the Bruins.

But the Black and Gold are far from the only team looking for some additional scoring on the wings. The Kings, Penguins, and Blackhawks are just some of the other teams expected to be in the market for a scorer between now and the deadline. (And there’s more.) The plus for the Bruins there is that both the Hawks and Pens are tight against the cap and would probably have to move significant salary to make something major work, and that the Kings have already raided their cupboard a few times.

The other problem: Iginla has a full no-movement clause and might not view the Bruins as a legitimate Cup contender. Which was the problem the last time Iginla hit the trade market, and that was when the Bruins were a lot better than they are now.

The NHL trade deadline is on March 1.

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Here’s your mailbag …

Brad Marchand has heated back up again and climbed way up in the scoring race [note: after last night’s three point night, Marchand is now tied for third in points with 23-31—54 totals, trailing only Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby]. If he hovers around that area, will he get some MVP votes? Timmy, Dorchester, MA

I think the impish left-winger should definitely be in the conversation if the Bruins manage to make it into the playoffs. After an absolutely torrid start, Marchand’s stats cooled off even though his overall play was pretty consistent. But he’s cranked it up to 11 as of late to vault into the top three in scoring.

It’s tough to imagine where the Bruins would be without him (or without Tuukka Rask for that matter). He’s started out as a fourth-liner six years ago and is now an All-Star that trails only the two best players in the game in points. Though it’s unlikely he’d nose out either of those two superstars, stranger things have happened. Should both ever miss any time, Marchand could easily slide past them to steal the Art Ross (most points). But the Ross is no guarantee of winning either the Hart or the Lindsay. So methinks he’d need to win the scoring title in a runaway to win one of the top MVP awards. Otherwise, the fawning media will award it to either Crosby or McDavid. And really, who can blame them?

What’s up with the Claude talk? It’s goes from ‘happening any minute’ to disappearing once they win three in a row. Charlie, Watertown, MA

Every media member should get a limited amount of times they can “fire” a coach. There should also be a time limits on a firing claim (i.e. if you say a guy’s getting fired in January but it doesn’t happen until June, then you didn’t have it). Because a bunch of reporters here in Boston would have already exceeded their quota on Claude.

What happens a lot of time is a guy or lady “hears something” that is hardly concrete, he/she draws own ultimately incorrect conclusion, then goes out on a limb (but not really) to say a guy’s getting canned. In other cases, a media member just straight up lies knowing full well that it’s almost impossible to prove a source didn’t tell them what they’re claiming. And there are times when front offices, players, agents, etc. use reporters to put out a false story or get their side out to the public. At the end of the day, nobody loses their job when their “reporting” regarding a firing turns out to be bunk. However, their reputation takes a hit and Twitter never forgets.

Who is the biggest disappointment at the break? Who is the biggest surprise? Teddy, Weymouth, MA

The Tampa Bay Lighting, currently six points back of the final playoff spot in the East, have no doubt been the biggest disappointment so far this season. Yes, I know they lost their best player for an extended time. But the Lightning have shown in the past that they can overcome not having Steven Stamkos in the line-up. That’s because they got top-notch goaltending. Unfortunately for them, they’re not getting that this year and it’s why they’re on the outside looking in. For a contender like Tampa Bay, it will be crushing to the franchise if they don’t even make the post-season.

It’s kind of hard not to pick the Columbus Blue Jackets for biggest surprise. After garnering just 76 points last season, absolutely nobody thought the John Tortorella-led squad would make a run at Pittsburgh’s most consecutive wins record this year. But they did just that in wining 16 straight games, coming up one game short of tying the record. The run did allow them to stockpile much-needed points because, despite the winning streak, they’re four points behind first-place Washington (thought Columbus has two games in hand). Still, it was a damn impressive accomplishment and let other teams know that the Blue Jackets are legit.

Blog Author: 
Rear Admiral

Tuukka Rask has made 43 starts this season, the second-most in the NHL.</p>
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