Bruins' Tuukka Rask Opts Out of NHL's Return to Play Amid Pandemic

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask plays during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask announced Saturday that he's opted out of the remainder of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs after starting the opening two games of team's first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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#NHLBruins goalie Tuukka Rask has opted out of the NHL's Return to Play: https://t.co/r3c7wjaTwR

Jaroslav Halak will take over as the Bruins' starter for the duration of their postseason run amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Rask missed the first game of the restart Aug. 2 after developing a cough.

"Yeah, I had a cough so I just clicked yes on the app and then all kind of red lights started blinking so I was quarantined for two days," he told reporters the following day. "They wanted to do two negative tests after that. That's it. Now I was back today."

The 33-year-old Finland native started Boston's next four games, two in the seeding round followed by the beginning of the Canes series. He posted a 2.57 goals against average and .904 save percentage in those contests.

After Thursday's Game 2 loss, he discussed struggling to find motivation within the "bubble" atmosphere at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference:

"To be honest with you, it doesn't really feel like playoff hockey out there. There are no fans, so it's kind of like playing an exhibition game. It's definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there. You try and play as hard as you can. When you're playing at a home rink and an away rink and the fans are cheering for and against you, it really creates a buzz for the series.

"There's none of that. So it just feels like dull at times. There are moments when there are scrums and whatnot, and then there will be five minutes when it's coast-to-coast hockey. There's no atmosphere. So it feels like an exhibition game. We're trying our best to ramp and get energized, and make it feel like it's a playoff game."

Rask and his wife, Jasmiina, also have a newborn baby at home, their third daughter, born in late April.

Meanwhile, Halak is one of the NHL's best backups, and his ascension to the top spot on the depth chart shouldn't significantly alter the Bruins' championship hopes. He compiled an 18-6-6 record with a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage in 31 appearances during the regular season.

Maxime Lagace and Dan Vladar are the other netminders on Boston's roster.

Game 3 against the Hurricanes is scheduled for a 12 p.m. ET faceoff Saturday on NBC.