BOSTON — The losses of Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley — and most recently Andrew Ference — give Bruins fans a sense of worry.
But now that worrisome feeling in The Hub of Hockey could turn into a little bit of panic after Tuukka Rask left Saturday’s 3-2 loss against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden with a lower body injury.
The Finnish netminder left the game at the 9:01 mark of the second period — with the game tied at 1-1 — being helped off the ice by his fellow teammates and did not return. Tim Thomas replaced Rask (11 saves) and let up two goals on 13 shots.
“Tuukks gets in there and is playing really well, but it’s part of the game,” said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a head injury. “Injuries are going to occur, and luckily for us we have two of the best goalies in the league. Tuukka goes down and you put Timmy in and Timmy’s obviously capable of doing the job.”
There’s no question that Thomas should get the bulk of the starts going forward, but the luxury of having the 1-2 combination could be put on hold for now.
Last year, while Thomas was putting together one of the greatest seasons goaltending-wise in recent memory, Rask helped take some of the load off the reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe winner. But now, Thomas will be called upon more often than not giving coach Claude Julien a difficult situation in the busiest part of the season.
“What can I say? It is what it is,” said the Bruins bench boss. “You’re hoping to be able to utilize your two goaltenders in this stretch because the next two weeks — there’s about four games per week — but it’s not so we’ll have to make do with the situation.”
Thomas, meanwhile, will look to adjust to the bleak situation of Rask’s injury.
“As soon as he went down — as a goalie — I’m at least coming in right away this game. You never know about things sometimes,” Thomas said. “Things could look terrible on the ice and they don’t end up taking a lot of time out to recover, or there is a lot of times you don’t even see the injury and then it ends up being really long term. So I don’t know, that’s not my area.”
Michael Hutchinson has been called up from Providence on an emergency basis to fill in for Rask, who will not travel with the team for Sunday afternoon’s game against the New York Rangers. As of now, there is no timetable on the extent of Rask’s injury.
But limited options on the waiver wire — outside of perhaps Marty Turco — combined with limited goaltending experience in Providence, Thomas will have to play several minutes down the stretch, which is obviously something he is used to. But it’s a situation that the Black and Gold would rather avoid, especially if he somehow sustains an injury down the road.