The Bruins will officially be without their No. 1 goaltender to start the 2020 NHL postseason this weekend.
Tuukka Rask was deemed "unfit to participate" for Sunday afternoon's round robin matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers after not feeling well, and instead backup Jaroslav Halak will take the ice against the Flyers for the postseason opener.
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Bruce Cassidy indicated that rookie goaltender Daniel Vladar will back up Halak for Sunday's game and the hope is that Boston's No. 1 netminder will be back practicing at the start of next week.
"He's feeling better," Cassidy said of Rask after the B's goalie missed practice on both Saturday and Sunday after an off-the-ice day for the team on Friday. "He's not going to play today. Hopefully he gets back on the ice as early as tomorrow."
It's not unheard of for Rask to not be able to answer the bell as both stomach issues and migraines have knocked him out of fairly important games in the past with the Black and Gold. But there's no indication as to exactly what was bothering the longtime Bruins netminder in an absence that will snap a streak of 76 consecutive playoff games played for Rask with the Bruins. It's not exactly the biggest deal in the world since the Bruins intended to play Halak in one of the three round robin games over this next week anyway. Rask was able to get some game action by seeing 20 shots in playing half of Thursday night's exhibition loss to the Blue Jackets.
But it's also not exactly confidence-inspiring to have one of the key Boston players to postseason success unable to play in the first game out of the chute after sitting around for the last five months amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The Bruins will obviously hope it's a passing blip with Rask and that he's getting it out of the way now rather than experiencing these kinds of issues when everything is on the line following the round robin games.
Here's the rest of the Bruins lineup for Sunday afternoon with Jack Studnicka getting another look on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk after an impressive effort in the exhibition game earlier this week:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Jack Studnicka
Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Jeremy Lauzon