On Tuukka Rask, Bruins GM Don Sweeney Makes the Most Definitive Statement yet – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – In the event that Tuukka Rask is likely to rejoin the Boston Bruins this season, there has been a lot of speculative, open-ended discussion. Now, there’s something a little more obvious – and it points to a borderline that appears to be back on the horizon.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke to the media on Tuesday, and at the end of the session he was asked if the team had spoken to Rask about the contract. Sweeney says that time hasn’t come yet, but when it does, he’s confident the two sides will be able to reach an agreement.

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“If he’s really fit and wants to compete, then he has the potential to be part of our team,” Sweeney said.

That is a bit more decisive than “the door is open” or “we’ll see what happens. “Yes, Sweeney’s statement still qualifies. First, Rask must reach the appropriate health level. Then he will have to decide he wants to play for the Bruins.

“I think there is a general understanding that Tuukka has to make decisions about her health, first and foremost,” Sweeney said.

However, GM did not hesitate to declare this: “We will find common ground.”

Such an addition could come in handy for a Bruins team currently sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division, two points behind a playoff spot – albeit with fewer games than all but one of the team. Eastern Conference.

With Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins are 14th in the NHL in terms of goals allowed per game (2.83). Among goalkeepers with at least eight starts this season, Swayman is 28th in save percentage (0.908), while Ullmark is 24th (0.914).

Sweeney describes the Bruins goalkeepers as experiencing some growing pains, and needing more consistency.

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“They were fine,” Sweeney said of Ullmark and Swayman. “Both have had really, really strong games and other times they haven’t played as well as they would have liked in some situations. And we have higher expectations for everyone. So I don’t think Linus and Jeremy would say that differently than me. “

Whether Rask – approaching his 35th birthday in March, and having hip surgery – can provide that needed consistency remains a mystery. However, the late career rise of Rask’s predecessor, Tim Thomas, after undergoing hip surgery in his late 30s provides some reason to believe Rask could make a similar comeback. Thomas won the Vezina Trophy – his second – as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy and apparently the Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season, the first year he returned from hip surgery at the age of 36. lost his starting job to Rask last season. .

Rask currently has the third-best savings percentage in NHL history, at 0.921. He played 540 regular-season games in his career, all with the Bruins, hitting a record 306-163-66. He also has the fourth-best save percentage (0.925) in playoff history among goalkeepers with at least 50 starts, a category led by Thomas of 0.933. If qualifying is moved to a starting 53 playoff minimum, Rask has the second-best playoff savings rate, one point behind Braden Holtby (0.926).

Rask finished second in Vezina’s vote for the 2019-20 season, but his numbers fell dramatically last season, a drop that coincided with his hip injury. Rask said he first felt the injury after the 2020 season and he dealt with it throughout last season.

Rask has stated his desire to only play for the Bruins if and when he is healthy, and he’s back on the ice at the Bruins practice facility late on Tuesday.

As noted, the Bruins family has had a light schedule so far, but the workload will increase dramatically in the coming weeks. The schedule was also condensed a bit in the second half due to the Olympic break.

The Bruins are 13th in the NHL with 3.06 goals per game, and their defense outside Charlie McAvoy isn’t exactly ranked among the best in the league. Even if Rask returns to the best form possible, that may not be enough to lift the Bruins to the heights they hope to reach by the end of April.

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But Sweeney seems to have made it clear that getting to that point will require better scoring. And if Rask is willing to offer its services, Bruins won’t hesitate to make it happen.

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