Bruins Head Into 10-Day Break With Tuukka Rask Concussion Dilemma
The Boston Bruins went into their final game before the league mandated bye week against the New York Rangers on Saturday night with high hopes. A win of any kind would vault the Bruins into second place in the Atlantic Division, a coveted spot which would give them home-ice advantage in the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs in less than three months time.
With the Bruins leading 1-0 late in the first period, Rangers big left-winger Filip Chytil drove hard to the Bruins net, puck in tow. With a quick flip of the wrist, Chytil scored to tie the game. Just as the puck entered the net, Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy laid a thunderous hit on Chytil, sending the winger flying into Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. The force of the hit sent the defenceless Rask sprawling into the post, knocking Rask’s mask off in the process.
Two Bruins players helped Rask off the ice, and the end result was a concussion for the Bruins long time goalie. Back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak entered the game to replace Rask, but to no avail as the Bruins lost 3-2. The loss left the Bruins one point back of the second place Toronto Maple Leafs, the same spot they sit today after the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes Sunday night.
There is never a good time for a concussion obviously. But with the Bruins not scheduled to play again until January 29th against the Winnipeg Jets because of the bye week and All-Star break, the ten days between games will allow Rask as much time as possible to recover. There has been no update issued by the Bruins since coach Bruce Cassidy informed the media of Rask’s diagnosis Saturday evening.
After a five-game win streak to kick off the new year, the Bruins have fallen back into the inconsistent ways that plagued them earlier in the season. Their current 2-3-1 stretch has kept them from climbing over the scuffling Maple Leafs, who have lost four of their last five games. It’s also allowed the surprising Montreal Canadians to catch the Bruins, both sitting at 59 points. The Canadians have one more game this week, on Wednesday at home against Arizona before they embark on their 10-day break.
Coming out of the break, the Bruins will have 13 games before the NHL trade deadline. Of those, only five come against teams with a record above .500 on the season. While this will be an opportune time to make up some ground in the division and help secure home-ice in the first round of the playoffs, this stretch does have some obstacles. They will embark on a five-game western road swing starting in mid-February that leads up to the trade deadline, with those games coming in an eight-day stretch.
Trade Deadline Will Come Fast
With the Atlantic Division standings being so tight at the moment, don’t be surprised to see Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney kicking tires on the trade market. Assuming that Rask’s concussion isn’t long-term, the back-end of the Bruins roster looks set. Acquiring some forward depth, however, is not out of the question prior to the February 25th trade deadline.
St. Louis Blues forward Brayden Schenn has been mentioned recently as a possible fit for the Bruins. Capable of playing both center and left wing, Schenn is also proven on the power play. Although the Bruins might need to be creative to fit Schenn into their salary cap, his skill set would be perfect on the Bruins.
Other players that the Bruins could take a long look at prior to the trade deadline include big Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers, Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings, Alex Chiasson from the Edmonton Oilers and Mats Zuccarello from the New York Rangers. These players have cap hits that could work for the Bruins, with not much term left on their current deals. In other words, great rental players.
After the New England Patriots amazing overtime victory Sunday in the AFC Championship game, the Bruins are certainly on the back burner in Boston while in the midst of their break. But after that, the trade deadline will fast approach and Bruins nation will be will be watching team management closely for possible upgrades.
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Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals