NHL players tend to gut out injuries during the playoffs, but what Tuukka Rask played through during the Bruins’ playoff run is absurd.
As Rask confirmed to reporters during Friday morning’s exit interviews, he dealt with a torn labrum in his hip during the playoffs. He will need surgery to repair the issue.
“I have a torn labrum in my hip. I’m going to do surgery,” Rask said, per Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston. “I just don’t know what the exact date is, probably within a month. I’ll start the recovery process and then we’ll see what the future holds after that. Hopefully, the recovery goes well and I’ll be ready to play hockey at some point next year.”
It was clear during the final couple of games in the Bruins vs. Islanders series that Rask wasn’t quite himself. He played just two periods against New York in Game 5, surrendering four goals on 16 shots, before exiting. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that Rask had “some maintenance that needed to be done” during the final period of the game.
In Game 6, Rask saved 23 of 27 shots but didn’t look 100 percent. He wasn’t moving as well as he had earlier in the series. After the Bruins were eliminated, Cassidy hinted that Rask needed surgery.
Now, we know why. That Rask was able to stay on the ice with a torn labrum in his hip is impressive. However, playing through the injury may cost him some playing time next season.
Rask said that he wants to play in Boston again next year, but he won’t be able to return until January at the earliest.
“I do (want to play next year). Mentally, I’m up for that,” Rask said. “The physical aspect, hopefully everything goes well. We’d probably be looking at a January or February return to hockey. That’s kinda the plan, and hopefully it works out.”
Certainly, if Boston wants Rask (a free agent) to return, having him sidelined to start the season is not ideal.
A question arises from this as well; did Boston really have to start Rask at less than 100 percent?
The Bruins have a wealth of goaltender talent. Their backup, Jeremy Swayman, posted a 7-3-0 record, .945 save percentage and 1.50 goals against average in 10 regular-season starts. And veteran Jaroslav Halak (9-6-4 record, .905 SV percentage, 2.53 GAA) also was also available.
Sure, starting either over Rask would have been a risk. Swayman’s an inexperienced rookie and he did give up a goal on three shots against the Islanders in relief of Rask during Game 5. Halak struggled toward the end of the season after coming off the COVID list and saw Swayman overtake him on the depth chart.
But both did have one advantage over Rask: They were presumably healthy.