After a disappointing loss for the Bruins in Game 6 against the Islanders and their subsequent elimination, there were a few hard questions left to answer for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, in particular about his health.
Heading into the game there were already questions about if he was in the right physical condition to play after being pulled before the third period in Game 5 with the explanation being that some "maintenance" was needed.
After the Bruins’ elimination, coach Bruce Cassidy addressed where Rask’s health stood this postseason.
“He was healthy enough to play, just he wasn't 100 percent,” Cassidy said. “I can't answer whether he was 95, or 92, or whatever.
“He had an injury earlier in the year he was dealing with, kind of one of those nagging ones. The medical team will assess it at the end of the year.”
As the injury continues to affect Rask and seems to not be healing as well as expected, surgery has become an option for the goaltender.
When asked about the possibility of having offseason surgery after Cassidy brought it up in his press conference minutes before, Rask confirmed it was on the table, simply responding, “Yeah.”
Cassidy told the media after Game 6 that it’s on Rask to decide what’s best for his health when addressing his injury:
“Only he can tell you going forward, there may be surgery, there may not," Cassidy said. "Like I said that will be his decision and the medical staff’s decision, and that’s what happened with Tuukka.”
Cassidy had the option to play a healthy Jeremy Swayman -- who made his playoff debut in the third period of Game 5 -- but opted to go with the veteran.
“He’s our starting goalie and he told us he was ready to go, and that's that,” Cassidy said before the game.
Rask also thought he was in the right physical condition to play.
“I was happy that I could play and perform at some pretty good level at least,” he said.
Rask described the progression of his injury and said it got harder to manage as the playoffs went on: “It definitely is not getting any easier.”
“You play every other day and the deeper you go the more physical it gets," Rask said. "Obviously it doesn't get easier but the training staff did a good job to keep me out there playing and we tried our best."
When asked if he would disclose the extent of his injury, Rask said he wanted to save that conversation for another day.
He cut off a question about what percent he thought his health was at before it was finished.
"You know, I don't want to get into that right now," Rask said. "We’re going to release the injury report in a couple of days, we’re going to have exit meetings. We can talk about it then. I promise I'll give you the full low-down then. I don't think that needs to be a headline now."
Rask faced a barrage of questions about his performance after allowing four goals while in net. One moment in particular Rask answered for was a hard pass up the boards to Mike Reilly, who lost the puck and saw it quickly end up in the back of the net. The score by Kyle Palmieri gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead in the second period and dampened hopes of another Bruins comeback.
When asked what he would have done differently on that play, Rask responded, “It was what we call a grenade. Could have made a better pass tape-to-tape. That would have made a difference.
“I decided to go forehand and then it just ended up bouncing right before him,” he said. “Yeah, tough play.”
On what he thought of his performance in general, Rask took responsibility for not putting up his best performance.
“I could have made a couple of more saves definitely," he said. "I should have made a few of those saves [to] keep it tighter. Didn't do it today and the season ended.
“It’s disappointing. But, I battled, I tried, and fell short.”
As for what Cassidy thought of Rask’s performance in the Bruins' final game of the season, he said, “It wasn't good enough to win, but neither were we, so this isn’t on Tuukka.”
He also highlighted the issues Rask had controlling rebounds.
“The two goals they got from the front of the net were rebounds that came right back,” Cassidy said. “When we talk about tracking issues with goaltenders, those are the ones that just have to stick to you.”
Rask and other Bruins veterans addressed whether this missed opportunity in the playoffs brings the team closer to closing the window for their core players, including Rask's own window.
“We're all getting older, we’re not going to last forever, so it’s definitely closing at some point,” Rask said.
And Rask gave no definitive answer on his future in Boston or in the NHL in general.
“We’ll see, I don't have any thoughts now. It’s a pretty tough loss, so I’m going to sleep a few nights and we’re going to have our exit meetings and start planning on the future,” he said.