Bruins Notebook: Tuukka Rask heads to IR; Donato, JFK look to round out games down in Providence

Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Halak next man up in net

The Bruins’ mandated bye week came at a good time for Tuukka Rask in wake of a concussion he suffered back on Jan. 19 against the Rangers — but Boston’s netminder still isn’t quite ready to return between the pipes.

Boston announced Monday morning that Rask was placed on injured reserve retroactive to last Saturday’s game, which means that he will be able to return whenever he is fully cleared from the concussion protocol.

For the time being at least, it will be Jaroslav Halak in net for the B’s, while the club also recalled Zane McIntyre up on emergency basis from Providence.

While Rask will sit out of Tuesday’s matchup against the Winnipeg Jets, Bruce Cassidy did note following Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena that the team doesn’t expect Rask to be out for an extended stretch.

That’s good news for Boston — as Rask was playing some of his best hockey prior to his collision with Rangers winger Filip Chytil. In his last eight outings, Rask is 6-0-1 with a .939 save percentage.

“I don’t think it’s long-term,” Cassidy said of Rask’s absence. “He won’t play tomorrow. Hopefully he gets on the ice tomorrow. That’s kind of the plan with where he’s at. Obviously, it’s day to day right now. That’s how we see it playing out and then if he’s on the ice tomorrow, then Thursday becomes a possibility.”

Until Rask gets a clean bill of health and returns to practice, goalie duties will fall on Halak — who has seen his production in net dip since a blistering start (.936 save percentage in October-November).

Halak is just 1-3-0 with a .856 save percentage in four appearances so far in January, but the veteran goalie didn’t spend much of his break reflecting on what has been a bit of a downturn in his play as the months have dragged on.

"During the break, I think everybody needed time off to get away from hockey and refresh, come back and be ready,” he said. “That’s kind of my approach.”

If Rask’s absence extends beyond Tuesday’s tilt against the Jets, Boston has some insurance in McIntyre. While the 26-year-old goalie’s numbers may not jump off the page so far down in Providence (.887 save percentage), he has been on a roll as of late — winning his last eight outings before getting the call back up to the NHL.

Still, if Rask continues to respond well to treatment and is cleared to practice Tuesday, the ball is in his court to reclaim his starting role in short order. 

“If (Rask) is ready to go, he’s going back in there, if he feels he’s ready,” Cassidy said. “Until he’s out there for a full team practice, it's hard to speculate. Until then it’s Jaro’s net. If we feel Zane deserves to play because Tuukka’s not ready, then we’ll deal with that.”

Donato, JFK head down to Providence

Rask’s IR designation didn’t come as too much of a shock, but a flurry of other roster moves were a bit unexpected.