The Bruins are in the playoffs, which means people are talking about goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask gave up three goals on 32 shots in a Game 1 overtime loss to the Capitals on Saturday. He probably could have done better on the game-winner -- which got deflected by Nic Dowd right in front of him, but then hit him in the chest before dropping between his legs and rolling in -- but couldn’t have done much about the other two goals.
While the Bruins’ bigger problem was clearly their offense, especially their top two lines, not testing Craig Anderson nearly enough after the soon-to-be-40-year-old took over for an injured Vitek Vanecek, a vocal subset of Bruins fans and media still blamed the loss on Rask and called for him to be benched in favor of rookie Jeremy Swayman for Game 2
That won’t happen, as Bruce Cassidy announced on Sunday that Rask remained his starter. On Monday, the Bruins coach expanded more on how he currently views the team’s goaltending situation, saying that it’s Rask’s net right now, but that he also thinks the team would be confident in Swayman should they need to go to him at some point.
“We don’t want to go to Tuukka and say, ‘Hey, if you have a bad outing, you’re out.’ I don’t think that helps anybody right now,” Cassidy said. “But I think internally, we know that we have other options if, for whatever reason. Injuries happen. Look at Washington last night. If Swayman went in, I think our guys would be confident with him in there.
“So it’s his [Rask’s] net right now. Only he can answer how he feels about the competition. I think once you’re in the NHL, there’s always competition. There’s always another guy who should be ready or close to ready. That’s what makes good teams function, and I think our backups around here the last three or four years have shown that. Now we have a new one in Swayman. A little bit of uncertainty, but obviously a guy, like I said, in a short sample size played well.”
Cassidy acknowledged that there is some history of young goalies, like Swayman, getting hot and leading their team on a deep playoff run, but also noted there are young goalies who struggle in their first postseason action as well. Rask, on the other hand, offers more certainty with 94 career playoff games under his belt.
“Getting Swayman ready, listen, you never know until a guy goes in,” Cassidy said. “We’ve seen lots of great stories where young goalies go in the net and play well. I’m sure there’s some along the way who don’t handle it. For us, we have his sample size of 10 NHL games, which he did a really good job with, including a couple of real good, solid games against Washington. So that certainly factors in.”
The Bruins will be making one lineup change for Game 2, as Connor Clifton will go in for Jeremy Lauzon on defense. Lauzon took a shot to his right hand on Saturday and did not practice Sunday.
On the Capitals side of things, Vitek Vanecek was not on the ice Monday morning, according to reporters on the scene. He suffered an injury during the first period of Game 1.
Craig Anderson took over on Saturday and was the first goalie off the ice at Monday’s morning skate, so it appears he will get the start for Game 2. Ilya Samsonov is out of COVID-19 protocol and back on the ice, as is center Evgeny Kuznetsov, but it seems both might need a little bit of time before they're game-ready.
Here are the projected lineups for Game 2. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall - David Krejci - Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie - Sean Kuraly - Charlie Coyle
Jake DeBrusk - Curtis Lazar - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly - Brandon Carlo
Connor Clifton - Kevan Miller
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Anthony Mantha
Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Michael Raffl
Daniel Sprong - T.J. Oshie - Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson
Brenden Dillon - Justin Schultz
Zdeno Chara - Nick Jensen