Bruce Cassidy usually names his goalie the day before a game but, given the unpredictable nature of concussions, the Bruins’ coach held off officially anointing Tuukka Rask as the starter for tonight’s game against the Flyers.
But Cassidy did say on Wednesday that there’s a “good chance” that Rask will get the nod, and that’s the best news for which the B’s could have hoped. When Rask’s head met the Rangers’ Filip Chytil’s backside back on Jan. 19, it certainly didn’t look good as he needed assistance to get off the ice that night.
Rask, however, said he recovered relatively quickly from the head injury and it didn’t hurt that he was able to recover while in the Caribbean during the team’s bye week. Rask returned to the ice on Tuesday prior to the team’s morning skate. He got some extra work in again before practice on Wednesday before participating in the full team session.
“I didn’t have too bad of a headache. It was mostly motion sickness and I was nauseous a little bit,” said Rask, who was 6-0-1 in his previous seven before being knocked out of the Ranger game. “The good thing about it is that’s we had the break. If you’re laying under the sun for five days, you’re going to feel a whole lot of nothing. I think that was the best thing for it.”
This is the second concussion Rask has suffered in his career (he believes he also suffered one as a child). Last year, he was blown up on a similar play in practice by an onrushing Anders Bjork early in the season.
“This was pretty similar, maybe a little worse. It was almost identical situation, but obviously game speed is a little higher than practice speed, but it was pretty similar,” said Rask. “You never know what’s going to happen when you have a concussion. I think the biggest thing I noticed is you don’t want to fight it in your own head too much. If you feel off, then don’t make anything out of it. Just rest.”
Rask didn’t have a big problem with the collision, which was exacerbated by a hit from Charlie McAvoy.
“Originally I thought he just tried to jump and avoid contact. Then I saw Chuckie tried to make a play coming across,” said Rask. “That’s just one of those things where a guy is obviously not trying hit you, then the D-man is trying to make a play. Then the timing’s a split second off and you get the worst part of it. It’s just a hockey play. I think unfortunately the way the game’s played these days, it’s so fast, a lot of that speed’s built up through the neutral zone. So if a couple of guys are in the wrong positions, the next thing you know guys are trying to make up for that other guy and it’s a perfect storm. That’s kind of what happened.”
A possible remedy?
“Bring hooking back, that’ll slow it down,” he said with a smile. “You can’t just tell guys not to go in the crease. It’s going to look stupid. The only thing you could do is go back to the ‘80s where you could hook and interfere more, and bring the red line back. Those are the only options you would consider to be helpful. But like I said, the game’s so much different now with guys coming in with speed through the wing. It’s just the nature of the game, unfortunately. Sometimes goalies take the worst of it.”
Last week, Ottawa Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson, himself concussed multiple times, sounded the alarm about all the contact that goaltenders are taking these day and cited the Chytil collision with Rask as an example of these dangerous times for netminders. Anderson proposed that the league shrink the creases by six inches, but if a skater ventures into the blue paint then the play is blown dead.
Rask isn’t one to turn down protection, but he doesn’t believe that idea is feasible.
“If you just want to protect goalies, sure, but I don’t think people would like to watch that,” said Rask. “It’d be like ‘What the hell happened? A guy just skated through the crease and they blow the whistle.’ It probably wouldn’t work. But I’m for it, yeah. protect the goalies. Don’t let anyone come near. But I don’t think that increases the entertainment value and that’s what everything is all about.”