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.