Rask may get call on both ends of important back-to-back

Rask may get call on both ends of important back-to-back

While the Bruins have been pretty consistent about giving Tuukka Rask some rest in back-to-back situations over the last few months, the time for rest may be over.

With just 11 games left in the regular season, it appears Rask will be starting both ends of a back-to-back against two important division rivals. He'll definitely play tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, as the third-place B's hope to build their lead over the fourth-place Leafs to five points. And it also sounds like he'll be in goal Tuesday night at TD Garden when Boston hosts second-place Ottawa, a team that's beaten the Bruins badly twice this season and whom they trail by four points in the Atlantic standings.

And Rask -- who's recently played like a goalie who needs a challenge, having posted a subpar .899 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average in his last six games -- says he's ready.

"Of course," he said Sunday at the team's practice facility in Brighton. "I think at this time of year you don't want to take time off  . . . Every game matters and you have to be ready to play. We've got a big game in Toronto and try to take care of business there, and then we come back and play Ottawa and go day-by-day. That's the best approach you can take.

"[Toronto and Ottawa] are good challenges. In order to be one of those good teams, you have to beat the good teams.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy has been up front about his goalie choices well ahead of games, and that didn't change after Sunday's practice when he hinted Rask was likely to play both Monday and Tuesday. The Bruins are facing a huge four-game week, with games against Toronto, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and the Islanders, and it appears backup goalie Anton Khudobin will get the call against the fading Lightning.

"Generally in back-to-backs we've gone with both goalies, but because we just had a couple of days off and Tuukka's workload wasn't [heavy], we might change it this week to be honest with you,” Cassidy said Sunday. "I'm not going to get ahead of it. Would Tuukka play all four? I highly doubt that, but where we slot in Anton might change from the predictable way that we've been doing it.”

That's a good thing for a Bruins team recognizing the importance of the next couple of games against the teams directly above and below them in the standings, and ready to put a bigger share of the responsibility in Rask's lap.

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL pre-July 1 wooing period is underway.

 

*Another draft pick has snubbed the team that selected him after their college career, and this time it’s the Buffalo Sabres. 

 

*It’s a shame to see the demise of the CTV sports staff in Montreal. Brian Wilde is a friend and a colleague, and a voice on the Habs that deserved to be heart up in that city. 

 

*In an emotional letter penned to the only NHL city that he’d ever played in, Marc-Andre Fleury has plenty to say about Pittsburgh. 

 

*The Edmonton Oilers and Peter Chiarelli have signed rugged power forward Zack Kassian to a three-year, $5.85 million contract. Interesting risk here for a player that might be a fourth line guy, and has had some issues toeing the line in the past, but Kassian has been pretty effective for the Oil since they stuck out their neck for him. 

 

*Teemu Selanne is a no-brainer for this season’s Hockey Hall of Fame class, and that’s great. But it will be a crime if three-time Stanley Cup champion and high-ranking lifetime scorer Mark Recchi doesn’t finally get into the Hall this season. Seriously, Recchi has the credentials statistically, he has the Stanley Cups, he has the time playing with some of the greatest players of his generation during his NHL career and he also happens to have been a great person and leader on top of all that. If former Bruins winger Recchi doesn’t hear his name announced this season then something is seriously flawed with the process. 

 

*How exactly will the return of Brandon Saad impact both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane over the next few seasons? One would imagine it’s going to be a positive impact. 

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman thinks that the Columbus Blue Jackets are making a push to be contenders, and will be in the mix for Ilya Kovalchuk. 

 

*Speaking of Blackhawks former Cup champs, Niklas Hjalmarsson is bringing that winning tradition, experience and leadership to the Arizona Coyotes now that he’s been traded. 

 

*For something completely different: What a crazy story this Han Solo movie intrigue has turned into, with reports that the movie’s crew “broke into applause” when it was announced that Ron Howard was taking over direction of the movie. 

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

When the hockey world grew tired of shootouts, the league took something of a half measure. Rather than eliminate the shootout, the league moved overtime from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3. It worked; games that were tied at the end of regulation were more likely to end in the five-minute OT period than before, thus reducing the frequency of shootouts. 

Now, the NHL is dealing with its latest cumbersome gameplay issue: the offsides challenge. A half-measure isn’t as desirable in this case. No more half measures, Walter. 

The offsides challenge was introduced with good intentions, but it’s simply too easy to abuse. And really, when the option is there with only a timeout at risk, why wouldn’t a coach roll the dice that maybe a guy was offsides entering the zone 29 seconds before the goal was scored? 

The option needs to be taken away. Rely on blueline cameras and automatically look at anything close on a goal that’s scored off the rush. It would take two seconds and would save the refs from another Matt Duchene incident while saving the viewer a lot of time. Let anything else go the way of the dry scrape. 

There’s the temptation to instead tweak -- maybe make offsides challengeable if the entry in question occurs within however many seconds -- but that would just mean more time would be wasted seeing if a play was even challengeable. 

It was proposed at the GM meetings in Chicago that if a coach loses an offsides challenge, his team will be assessed a two-minute penalty. That sounds great as a deterrent, but it won’t stop instances of the needless why-the-hell-not challenge. Late in games, coaches might be just as likely to take their chances in a tie game or a one-goal game. That goal allowed could likely be the deciding tally, so if they’re likely to lose anyway, some coaches might still go for the time-wasting Hail Mary. 

And of course, the loser there is the person hoping to catch their train out of North Station in time, or the person who might doze off during the stupid challenge, wake up four hours later on their couch and develop back issues over time. That was a friend, not me. 

Colin Campbell said at the GM meetings in Chicago ahead of the draft that the league is trying to "temper" the negative reaction the offside challenge has received from players and fans. 

There’s really only way to do that, and that’s to get rid of it.

See you in a year when we’re going through the same thing with goalie interference.