Just as Patrice Bergeron and David Backes are one step closer to returning, the Bruins may have been dealt another blow on the injury front.
During Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Tuukka Rask was helped off the ice by Zdeno Chara and a team trainer following his collision with Anders Bjork in front of the starters net.
Ironically enough, the collision came as the Bruins were working on drills to improve their net-front presence – something that was a sore spot for them in their losses to the Avalanche (twice) and Golden Knights.
For a team that has suffered their fair share of injuries early on – including Adam McQuaid (who returned to practice after leaving Sunday’s game in Vegas with a lower-body injury), Ryan Spooner, and Noel Acciari’s opening night setback – the last thing the Bruins need is for their No. 1 netminder to lose any time following Wednesday’s practice collision in Brighton.
“I just kind of ran into Tuukka there,” said Bjork, who suffered a cut beneath the mouth as a result of his collision with Rask. “We were doing 3-on-2’s. It was a fast play and I don’t really know what happened – there were a lot of bodies out there – so it’s really unfortunate that it happened. I hope he’s okay, and I wish I could’ve held on out there, but it happened so fast.”
“Hopefully I can do something for him to make up for it,” Bjork added about his teammate.
“I don’t think anybody wants to run [over] the goalie whether it’s your first, second or third string,” Cassidy noted. “It was incidental contact on a hard drill where we’re trying to build in more net action and more net drive and that’s the skill where we need to learn from it sometimes.”
With the Bruins set to face off against the Canucks on Thursday night at TD Garden, Anton Khudobin may very well be called upon to make his second start of the season. The B’s backup picked up right where he left off from a solid training camp – following a strong end to 2016-17 where he won six of his last seven starts – in his first game of the year against the Coyotes.
“You want strong start, no matter how I finished last year, you always want to win games,” said Khudobin, who was the only goaltender left for the remainder of practice following the Rask-Bjork collision. “Last year was strong, this year [as a team] we kind of started 50-50 so it doesn’t matter what [the circumstances] are going to be, you just want to win.”
Rask’s setback may have thrown a wrench into Cassidy’s schedule for his goaltenders. But given his performances over the last calendar, Khudobin could give the Black and Gold a needed shot in the arm if his trend of success continues.
“We’ve sort of mapped out the [goaltending] schedule for October and we’re going to stick to that,” Cassidy said. “Obviously if we have to deviate because of an injury, then we’ll do that and have confidence in [Khudobin] for sure.”
Khudobin in the short-term is a reliable option. Given the goaltending depth behind him that includes an unproven Zane McIntyre, however, the last thing the Bruins need is for Rask to miss a significant amount of time.