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Bruins Notebook

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask sidelined by ‘minor injury,’ listed as day-to-day

Tuukka Rask has played in four games for the Bruins this season.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

A couple of hours before Friday night’s faceoff in Arizona, the Bruins activated taxi squad goaltender Troy Grosenick, and the ex-Union stopper dressed as Linus Ullmark’s backup during the 2-1 victory over the Coyotes.

Per a team spokesperson, Tuukka Rask, who many believed for days would be the starter in Glendale, was sidelined due to a minor injury. His return to service is to be determined on a day-to-day basis.

If Rask’s injury were to linger, the Bruins likely would recall Jeremy Swayman from AHL Providence. Swayman shared the net duty with Ullmark through December, but was returned the WannaB’s when Rask made his return from off-season hip surgery to start against the Flyers on Jan. 13.


Swayman, who was not in uniform for Friday night’s Providence matchup against Hartford, has gone 2-2-0 and 2.51/.892 in his four AHL starts. It’s possible he’ll join the varsity for Monday’s night trip finale in Dallas.

Despite Craig Smith’s production dip, Bruce Cassidy stays the course

His Bruins without a win in their last two (0-1-1), coach Bruce Cassidy kept his lines intact Friday despite the continued offensive struggles of No. 1 right winger Craig Smith.

It’s status quo. For the moment.

“When we first mixed up the lines, he got a goal right away, going to the dirty area, a rebound goal,” said Cassidy following his club’s morning workout in Glendale. “He can score off the rush, we saw that against Nashville, so the puck’s gotta find him a little better. Some of that, for me, is he has to hang on to pucks a little better in the offensive zone — I think he is trying to get pucks to Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and March [Brad Marchand] maybe quicker than they’re open.”

A potential cure there, noted Cassidy, would be for Smith simply to hold on to pucks longer, and assess options of whether to shoot or pass. By nature, Smith takes a more active, oft-frenetic approach over the blue line, typically choosing to shoot first and not bother asking questions later.


“You’re a strong guy, good skater,” mused the coach. “Separate and get [the puck] to them.”

Smith’s production has been especially dormant of late and has lagged considerably behind the other forwards in the top six since Cassidy swapped him into David Pastrnak’s No. 1 right wing spot on Jan. 1. His overall line of 3-3—6 in the 14 games prior to Friday night ranked him last.

In five games prior to Friday, Smith did not record a point. He failed to land a shot in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Denver, and tallied only three on net across the previous three games. That was a substantial drop in volume after he posted 31 in 10 games following Jan. 1.

“Maybe getting something from the power play would help,” added Cassidy, though Smith does not often see duty on the No. 1 unit. “Because when you are a scorer, at the end of the day — and you see this with different guys — once they score one they tend to loose up and get going.”

Smith, 32, has never been a prolific goal scorer; his career high was 25 with Nashville in 2017-18. But when placed with two of the club’s elite forwards on the top line, he is expected to contribute more pop, be it with goals or assists.


“I think that’s what’s in front of Smitty — we hope,” said Cassidy, placing his bet that the next goal will be the one that primes the pump. “He’s playing with two good players, who’ll certainly get him the puck in good spots. So that’s the objective and hopefully he stays with it, doesn’t starting squeezing his stick too much, start cheating or whatnot.”

Colorado’s MacKinnon still out after Taylor Hall hit

Taylor Hall’s drive-by check that decked Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnnon Wednesday night in Denver left the elite Avalanche forward with a facial fracture and concussion, the bulk of that damage likely sustained in his awkward fall to the ice.

Avs coach Jared Bednar said Friday that MacKinnon, 26, likely will be sidelined for at least the next three games.

Hall initially was assessed a five-minute major for the open-ice fender bender, but it was reduced to a two-minute minor interference upon video review. The initial damage was inflicted while McKinnon was still on his feet by the forward’s own stick, which rode up and clipped him in the face upon contact with Hall.

Steaming over the sight of their fallen star, the Avs unsuccessfully attempted to goad Hall into a fight. Had they the opportunity to study the replay, they might have realized MacKinnon’s injury was the consequence of some bad luck.

“I knew it was a clean hit,” Hall said Friday after the morning workout. “If I did something wrong or [I was] standing up for a teammate, then I’d be fighting on my terms. Fighting on their terms isn’t something I wanted to do.”


Remember them?

After facing ex-Bruins forward Phil Kessel in Arizona, stop No. 2 on the alumni tour Sunday evening in Dallas will have another ex-Boston first-rounder, Tyler Seguin, in the opponent’s lineup.

Seguin, 29, has been slow to build back production after missing all but three games last season following November 2020 surgery to repair a torn right hip labrum — a playoff injury that also caused nerve damage and subsequent severe muscle atrophy in his right quadriceps.

Prior to facing the Caps on Friday night, Seguin’s production was a paltry 12-7—19 in 40 games, with an accompanying minus-13 rating. He has shown a little more pop of late, posting a more Seguin-like 3-3—6 in the five games leading up to the Caps matchup.

The most compelling story in the Stars offense has been the continued late-in-life production of ex-Sharks center Joe Pavelski, 19-29—48 through 40 games, a remarkable pace that could see the 37-year-old finish the season with 100 points. From a guy whose career high was 79 with the 2013-14 Sharks.

If anything, Pavelski seems to be gaining momentum, connecting for 4-8—12 in his five games prior to Friday night.

The Sharks opted to let the pride of Plover, Wisc., walk as a unrestricted free agent in July 2019, allowing Dallas to land him with a three-year, $21 million pact, which paid off immediately when he helped led them to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final vs. the Lightning. He is on target to hit the UFA market again in July, 10 days prior to his 38th birthday, this time possibly as the open market’s top scorer.


If he connects for 100, he will be only the third NHLer age 37-plus to reach the century mark.

In 1968-69, as his 41st birthday approached, Gordie Howe collected 103 points with the Red Wings. Almost 40 years later, at age 37, Joe Sakic hit 100 on the nose with the 2006-07 Avalanche.

BU’s Jake Oettinger coming up big

Tuukka Rask likely will get the start in net for Monday night’s trip finale in Dallas, possibly opposed by towering (6-foot-5) ex-Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger.

Oettinger, 23, has been in a job share with veteran ex-Caps goalie (and Bruins nemesis) Braden Holtby for the last six weeks, dating back to the Stars waiving ex-Boston stopper Anton Khudobin and assigning him to AHL Texas.

The Stars, winners of four straight prior to facing the Caps, went with Holtby in three of those four games, but Oettinger stopped 27 of 28 shots in Monday’s 3-1 victory in Philadelphia. As of Friday morning, Oettinger was 10-4-0 with a 2.60/.909, numbers in lockstep with Holtby’s 9-8-1, 2.60/.917

A first-round pick (No. 26) in 2017, Oettinger left BU after three seasons in 2019, turned pro, and made his NHL debut in the 2020 COVID-bubble playoffs.

Upon leaving the Caps as a free agent, Holtby signed a two-year deal in Vancouver, only to be bought out after one season and signed on with the Caps last off-season for a one-year deal ($2 million).

Meanwhile, the affable Khudobin labors on in the AHL. He is 35 years old and has one year remaining on a deal that will pay him $3.75M next season.

Time for a change

In the five games prior to their 7-1 pasting at the hands of the Canes on Jan. 18, the Bruins owned the clock, allowing the opposition a lead for a combined 16:12 compared to their 224:27, approximately a 14:1 ratio. In the five games prior to Friday’s stop in Arizona, they were decidedly upside down, leading for only 52:04 and trailing for 127:30 . . . The Bruins’ power play, connecting at least once in seven consecutive games prior to facing the Coyotes, opened the night ranked No. 6 in efficiency (25.6). Befitting a club at the bottom of the standings, the Coyotes were an anemic 12.7 . . . Fast approaching his five-year anniversary as Bruins bench boss, Cassidy carried a 218-95-44 (.672) mark into the game with the Coyotes. He took over the No. 1 duties from Claude Julien on Feb. 7, 2017, and rallied them to an 18-8-1 (.685) finish and a playoff berth.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.