Tuukka Rask has a broken finger, but he isn’t worried about missing any time.
The Bruins goaltender has been wearing a splint on the middle and ring fingers of his left (catching) hand. It is a pre-camp injury. During a video call with reporters Tuesday, Rask said he fractured a finger performing box jumps a few weeks ago.
Hockey players and other leg-dominant athletes use box jumps to improve their explosive power. The standard exercise involves a squat in front of a solid box or platform, then jumping onto the top of the box.
“I slammed my finger at the edge of the box, bent the ligament, kind of fractured the finger,” Rask said. “It’s a small fracture, nothing major. but you can probably imagine it’s not going to feel great to catch pucks with that.”
Rask was stung in the hand by a few shots last week, leaving one practice early and departing down the tunnel in another. Those are regular occupational hazards, Rask feels, not the sign of a problem with his finger.
“I’m not worried about it; it’s just one of those things that’s going to linger a little bit,” he said. “It’s been, what, two to three weeks now, and it already feels a lot better. So I’m pretty optimistic that in a week I’ll have my normal glove on.”
Coach Bruce Cassidy’s explanation for his netminder’s splint referred to one of Rask’s favorite leisure-time activities.
“Too much drums, I think,” Cassidy joked.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s our guy. He’s ready to go.”
Rask will not play every game in the round robin, the coach confirmed. Jaroslav Halak will see some time, and may split the July 30 exhibition game against Columbus.
“We have to get [Halak] ready,” Cassidy said. “We need him ready for the playoffs, as well. You have to see live action to do that. How much and what we divide up, that’ll be as we get closer.”
Rask played all 24 playoff games in last year’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, going 15-9 with a .934 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average. Twice he posted shutouts to help the Bruins advance, blanking Columbus in Game 6 of the second round and Carolina in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Halak’s last playoff action came with the Islanders in 2015, during a six-game loss to the Capitals in the first round.
Though it seems unlikely he would play unless Rask could not, Halak said he hasn't been told he isn't playing.
"I'm open-minded to pretty much anything," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. I always say we are here as a team."
Halak took a shot off his palm Tuesday but also was OK. One of his goalie sticks, which he smashed in frustration, was not.
“Jaro’s been known the odd time to break a stick,” Cassidy said. “We’re OK with it. We like his competitive juices. He usually gets back in there and works his way through it.”
David Pastrnak, who has skated once at Warrior Ice Arena since summer camp began last Monday, was missing again. He also was missing from the Hart Trophy ballot.
A 48-goal season — good for a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy — wasn’t enough to get Pastrnak on the MVP ballot. The Professional Hockey Writers Association named Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche), and Artemi Panarin (Rangers) finalists for the league’s premier individual award.
Some of the Bruins who have been out are expected to return by the end of this week.
Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, Charlie McAvoy, and Joakim Nordstrom were “unfit to play” Tuesday. Chris Wagner, who missed the last two days, returned.
Asked if he believed he will get more players back Wednesday, Cassidy said, “Absolutely.”
“We went through some testing stuff, but it didn’t work out exactly on our schedule,” Cassidy said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’re on time with that.”
He added that Wednesday may be a maintenance day for some regulars who have been in Brighton daily. Thursday’s attendance will be a more representative sample.
A place for him?
Jack Studnicka began camp as a center, his natural position. He took a turn filling Pastrnak’s skates as the No. 1 right wing Tuesday. Cassidy plans to give him an extended look.
“The first week, we tried to get everyone going, in hockey mode, comfortable in their position,” Cassidy said. “The second week, you start to wonder about chemistry.”
Since Studnicka isn’t likely to crack the lineup down the middle, and Pastrnak, Kase, and Wagner have been out, the right-shot rookie has a chance on the wing (not unlike Patrice Bergeron in 2003-04). He made a slick scoring play in Tuesday’s scrimmage, gaining the zone with speed, playing give-and-go with Bergeron, and finding a trailing Zdeno Chara for a wrister in the slot.
“Liked his confidence,” Cassidy said of the first-year pro, who led AHL Providence in scoring and earned an All-Rookie nod. “In general, he seems to be more confident. Knows he belongs.
“Obviously it’s an unknown for him, what playoff hockey looks like, but we’ve had guys go through that. That won’t scare us off, if he outplays guys.”
The Bruins have been upping the intensity level. Players aren’t lining each other up for hits, but no one is skating with the puck uncontested.
“Guys were getting a little feisty,” Cassidy said. “Nothing can replace live action against an angry opponent that you don’t know, but right now we’re doing our best to try to simulate that.”