By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — As the playoffs wore on, Tuukka Rask wore down. And the Bruins’ netminder may require surgery in the coming offseason.
After head coach Bruce Cassidy pulled Rask after two periods of work in Game 5 of the Bruins’ series against the Islanders, it was a question whether Rask would even start in Game 6. He did, but he and the Bruins didn’t play a very good game, and their season ended as a result.
After the 6-2 loss, in which Rask allowed four goals while making 23 saves, Cassidy said that Rask may need offseason surgery to repair the injury that’s been “nagging” him throughout this shortened season.
“There may be surgery, there may not,” Cassidy said. “So that’ll be his decision, and the medical staff’s decision.”
Rask confirmed that surgery is a possibility for him, but he did not want to discuss his injury status after the season-ending loss.
“I don’t want to get into that right now. We’re gonna have to release an injury report in a couple of days, we’re gonna have our exit meetings, so we can talk about it then. I promise I’ll give you a full lowdown,” Rask said. “I don’t think that needs to be the headline though.”
Rask later added: “It’s tough in the sense that when you’re injured, it’s kind of nagging in the back of your head, and you’re just thinking about it. But you try to push it out and just focus on the game itself. … I definitely battled and left it all out there. We just fell a little bit short this time. I was happy that I could play and perform at a pretty good level.”
Rask finished the playoffs with a 6-4 record, .919 save percentage, and 2.36 goals-against average. His work, despite the injury situation, was appreciated by his captain.
“I think it speaks volumes of him,” Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s been doing it for many, many years now, and he’s always been stepping up when needed and battling through things here and there. So we knew that it wasn’t always easy at times for him with what he was dealing with, but kudos to him for wanting to be there for us.”
Rask, 34, just completed the final season of his eight-year, $56 million contract, which he signed in the summer of 2013. He’s since become the franchise’s all-time leader in wins — both in the regular season and postseason — while also setting the franchise record for career save percentage (.922). But he hasn’t won a Stanley Cup as the starting goalie, a fact that will likely serve as the opening line whenever the goaltender is discussed in future conversations.
This year’s postseason exit was just another missed opportunity for the Bruins’ core — Rask, Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci — that has been together for so long.
“I think it’s the same answer as every year — you know, we’re all getting older and we’re not going to last forever,” Rask said. “So [the window] is definitely closing at some point. Yeah, for sure.”
Of course, Rask could still win that Cup with the Bruins, if he re-signs with the team, and if the team restocks the roster to be able to compete deeper into the postseason.
As for whether Rask wants that to happen, it’s hard to really get a good read on the matter. He could retire, he could sign on for more years in Boston, or he could move along to a new city.
Whatever his preference might be, Rask gave no indication when speaking to the media from the confines of Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night.
“We’ll see,” Rask said when asked about his future plans. “I don’t have any thoughts right now. It’s a pretty tough loss. So I’m going to sleep a few nights, and we’re going to have our exit meetings, and start planning on the future.”