Ramblings: Rask Opts Out, Halak Leads Bruins To Win (Aug 16)

Ian Gooding

2020-08-16

Saturday started with a bombshell with the announcement of Tuukka Rask's decision to opt out of the NHL's postseason. This announcement came just hours before the Bruins were set to face Carolina in Game 3.

From a human standpoint, I completely understand this decision. Rask has a newborn at home as well as two other children. Being away from family for an indefinite period won't be easy, and being fully committed to a team's Stanley Cup hopes is that much more difficult considering the times we now live in. This was no doubt a difficult decision that was weighing heavily on him. Now is not the time to be judging someone for a decision they make on whether to play or not to play, even if the timing isn’t ideal for the Bruins. Everyone's situation is unique.

I also wonder if Rask's decision is simply a one-off, or if it will create a domino effect for other players that have also been thinking about leaving the bubble. Rask is a high-profile player, and it's human nature to wait for someone else to raise their hand before raising your own. He is obviously not the first player to opt out of the return to play, but I believe he is the first to opt out for non-injury reasons since actual games resumed.

From a hockey standpoint, Boston's playoff hopes now ride on the shoulders of Jaroslav Halak. We've seen that he's a great fit for the almost-even split in duties between him and Rask. However, he has struggled in the recent past when he was the #1 guy. I'm referencing the 3.22 GAA and .908 SV% from his 53 GP as an Islander in 2017-18, but that was under a much worse defensive system than what the Bruins have today. So it's possible that Boston won't skip a beat with Halak taking over. Carolina, with its ability to drive the play on its opponents, will be a big test.

Boston 3, Carolina 1 (Boston leads series 2-1)

It didn't take long for us to find out how well Halak would fare as the starter. He stopped 29 of 30 shots to lead a focused Bruins team to a much-needed Game 3 win. His only mistake was on a third-period clearing attempt from behind his net, which went straight to Nino Niederreiter a