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  • Tuukka Rask gets the nod vs. Oilers

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    Tuukka Rask gets the nod vs. Oilers

    Tim Rosenthal November 25, 2017

    Call this another turn in the goaltending saga on your own accord, but it was inevitable that Tuukka Rask would get another start before the month of November came to a close.

    In the midst of a four-game win streak, all of which saw Anton Khudobin perform solidly – if not spectacularly – Bruce Cassidy is giving Rask the nod on Sunday when the Bruins look to extend their streak to five in a row as they welcome Connor McDavid and the struggling Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

    “I have thought about it, and I’m putting Tuukka in tomorrow,” Cassidy said following Saturday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, which included Brad Marchand and David Backes – both ruled out for Sunday.

    “We talked about a time where he was going to play and I thought yesterday [against the Penguins] wouldn’t be a perfect game because we hadn’t practiced the day before. He got a good solid practice in today, and he’ll go in tomorrow and we’ll worry about Wednesday [against the Lightning] on Wednesday.”

    Game by game is the exact approach Cassidy should be taking in terms of naming a starting goaltender.

    Given Khudobin’s performances, however, the move to start Rask might come as a head-scratcher, especially to the always vocal ‘Trade Tuukka’ crowd. There’s no denying that Khudobin has been the better goaltender of the two and the stats prove it. Entering Saturday’s slate of games, Khudobin sits second in the league in save percentage (.932), tied for first in even-strength save percentage (.942) and third in goals-against average (2.22) among goalies who have made at least 10 appearances.

    Though he did well in all four games during the win streak allowing just seven goals in that span, Khudobin, who hasn’t lost a game in regulation this year (7-0-2 overall), is in need of a rest. Rask is in need of playing time. The decision to go with Rask against an Oilers squad that has been surprisingly disappointing – following their return to the playoffs a year ago – was an easy one for Cassidy.

    “He’s used to playing a lot of hockey but hasn’t done so for awhile,” Cassidy said. “For him, he might treat it like coming back from an injury where he hasn’t played a bit, but he’s been practicing and practicing well. It’s his turn to go. We’ve gotten terrific goaltending out of Doby and we’d like to get terrific goaltending out of Tuukka, so everything can be terrific.”

    Rask has been far from terrific this year, and he’d probably be the first person to tell you that. The 2014 Vezina winner, who has allowed three or more goals in each of his last five starts, is 3-7-0 with a 2.89 GAA and .897 SV%.

    On the ice, Rask hasn’t been too productive. He did, however, provide enough guidance for David Pastrnak prior to his game-winner in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Penguins.

    “I had a feeling that I was going to get a breakaway, so I asked Tuukka what he thinks I should do and he said you should go from backhand to forehand, so that was kind of my mindset going into a breakaway,” Pastrnak said about Rask’s guidance that led to his 11th goal of the season. “What should I do, what should I do? I tried going low-glove and it worked.”

    “Yeah, it was pretty good advice,” Pastrnak added with a laugh. “He’s one for one so far.”

    Right now, Rask’s advice has worked, but the Bruins are hoping his goaltending skills are working following the 11 days between games.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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