Although the Boston Bruins are fresh off their highest scoring output of the season, the talk surrounding the club is focused on their goaltending situation as they return home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
Sure, the Bruins have had Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark each guard the net in 16 games this season, but Tuesday they added a familiar name to the mix when Tuukka Rask, 34, reportedly signed a contract with the club for the rest of the season.
The Bruins’ all-time winningest goaltender and former Vezina Trophy recipient has been working his way back from surgery in July to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. He was expected to suit up for Providence in the AHL last weekend, but the team’s games were canceled to due COVID protocol.
With the schedule compacted going forward — Boston is amid a stretch of playing five games in eight days — adding a goalie with Rask’s impressive credentials can only help. Still, Rask has not played in a game since June 9.
The Bruins improved to 5-1-0 in their last six games following convincing road victories over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk recorded a career-high five-point performance (one goal, four assists) in the 7-3 romp over the Capitals on Monday.
“As it’s happening, you just kind of shake your head,” Grzelcyk said. “I was just laughing during the game because I’ve felt good about my game most of the year and points have been a little bit hard to come by.”
Perfection Line members David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each scored twice and Taylor Hall set up a pair of tallies to extend his point streak to six games (two goals, six assists). Hall had a goal and an assist in Boston’s 5-2 home win over Montreal on Nov. 14.
“He’s a pretty explosive player,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Hall. “He finds the ice and can finish plays and can pass as well as he shoots. It’s a good combination right now.”
The Canadiens return to the ice after seeing their five-game homestand postponed by the NHL due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, the struggling team begins what amounts to a seven-game road trip on Wednesday.
Montreal, which last played on New Year’s Day, has lost 10 of its last 11 games (1-8-2) to make itself comfortable in the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
“The losing that we’ve been doing has been (expletive),” forward Nick Suzuki told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s not fun.”
“It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning and coming to the rink and having fun as a group,” Suzuki said. “We need to hopefully get all these guys back and then just try to win as many games as possible. We’re trying to build what we got, see who really wants to reveal themselves that want to stick around and really battle for the rest of the season and see what happens.”
Suzuki holds a share of the club lead in both goals (seven) and assists (12). His 19 points are tops on the team.
Defenseman Jeff Petry cleared the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and returned to practice Tuesday.
–Field Level Media
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