The Boston Bruins will be without their top option in goal tonight when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in the round-robin. Tuukka Rask has been ruled unfit to play by head coach Bruce Cassidy, meaning Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Bruins.
Perhaps more than any other team in the playoffs, the Bruins have prepared for a situation like this all season. Halak is much more than a backup for Boston, playing in 31 games during the shortened regular season and posting a .919 save percentage. That’s a number most teams would be happy to get from their starter, but it still is a step down from Rask’s .929. One of the advantages of being a top seed in each conference is this round-robin structure, which will allow the team to get healthy without the risk of elimination for the first week.
- One team not in quite as strong a situation is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who start a best-of-five series against the Toronto Maple Leafs later today. The Blue Jackets have two young excellent goaltenders of their own, but head coach John Tortorella has decided to go with Joonas Korpisalo in game one. While Elvis Merzlikins may have received more press this season due to it being his first in North America, it was easy to forget that Korpisalo was actually named to the All-Star game before suffering an injury. He posted a .911 save percentage on the season but has a strong history against the Maple Leafs and much more experience at the NHL level.
- It may not come as much of a surprise, but Braden Holtby will be in net when the Washington Capitals start their own round-robin tomorrow afternoon. Holtby will start over Vitek Vanacek according to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post when the Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Once Ilya Samsonov was ruled out due to injury the obvious choice was Holtby given his experience, but it is also important to remember that he was far from his dominant self this season. In fact, Holtby posted an .897 save percentage on the season, putting him 52nd among NHL goaltenders who appeared in at least 20 games.