With Tuukka Rask opting to leave the NHL bubble, the Boston Bruins are turning to Jaroslav Halak to backstop the team to a lengthy playoff run.
Losing your starting goalie is never ideal under any circumstance, but losing your starting goalie at the beginning of a hopefully long playoff run sounds like a nightmare.
However, this season has come with so many twists and turns that nothing really feels surprising anymore. It was still shocking that Tuukka Rask decided to opt out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially after joining the team for the Round Robin games and the first two games of their First Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
But when you look at the circumstances surrounding Rask’s departure, you really can’t blame him for feeling the need to be back with his family.
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It’s now on Jaroslav Halak to backstop the Boston Bruins throughout the remainder of the playoffs, and so far he’s done a good job of it.
He was a puck handling mistake away from a shutout in Game 3, did enough to keep the Bruins close in Game 4, and allowed just one goal in Game 5 to clinch the series against the Hurricanes.
While Carolina is definitely an up and coming team, they still aren’t close to the level that the Bruins are at. Now the competition begins to get a lot tougher, and this is where Boston could run into some problems.
Halak has proven himself to be one of the best backup goalies in the league, which has been great for the Bruins during the regular season.
Being confident in both goalies is a luxury that not many NHL teams have, but Halak has thrived in a role where he isn’t expected to carry the majority of the work. Now that he’s been thrown into the starting role, it’s reasonable to have some doubts about how far the Bruins can go with Halak being their guy.
With a 2.29 goals-against-average and 0.912% save percentage, Jaroslav Halak has been able to give the Boston Bruins reliable goaltending, although not outstanding.
That being said, his number are better than what Rask posted during his four starts before leaving, although of course it’s possible that Rask was concerned with more important things at the time.
At the end of the day, Halak is the best option that the Bruins have and any shot of winning a Stanley Cup will need to come with him guarding the crease.
This series against the Tampa Bay Lightning will show a lot. If Halak is able to shut down the high-scoring Lightning, then the Bruins can be seen as a real contender going forward. But until that happens, many fans will have doubts about how far this team can go without their starting goalie.