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On further review, Jaroslav Halak is the better option

Jaroslav Halak gets a celebratory hug from Zdeno Chara after the Bruins’ victory over the Flyers Saturday. The Boston Globe

Further review of Montreal 3, Boston 0 and looking at the week ahead for the Bruins, who are on the road beginning Tuesday:

■  No question Jaroslav Halak is the better option at this point, with Tuukka Rask at risk of ending October with a save percentage in the .800s for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Rask (.902, 3.15 GAA, 3-3-0 after six starts) has been below-average (median save percentage: .908), while Halak (3-0-2, .945, 1.43) has yet to have a bad night. If Cassidy is going to deviate from his script that calls for Rask about 55 times, this could be a week to try it.


Halak, 34, could conceivably bounce back between Tuesday’s game at Carolina and Saturday at Nashville. The Bruins will travel home to practice in between, so the coach and assistant “Goalie Bob” Essensa will be looking for signs Rask is sharper. If they don’t see it, it could be time to reward the veteran backup.

■  The glass-half-full view of the Bruins’ defense: It’s getting healthier.

With Torey Krug (left ankle) likely to make his season debut Tuesday at Carolina, the Bruins on Sunday assigned Jeremy Lauzon to AHL Providence. Lauzon, 21, skated a third-pair role the last two games, his first two as an NHLer.

Krug’s return would boost a power play that hasn’t been shabby in his absence. The Bruins (seventh-best, 28.1 percent) have been generating looks with Matt Grzelcyk running the No. 1 unit, though they’ll be glad to have Krug’s confidence and mobility at the top of the 1-3-1 formation.

When Krug returns, Grzelcyk will play point on the No. 2 unit (which often runs through David Krejci on the half-wall), displacing fill-in Steve Kampfer. He will stay there until Charlie McAvoy returns from what ails him.

■  The Bruins were off Sunday, so no update on McAvoy, David Backes, and Urho Vaakanainen, all out with upper body injuries. Vaakanainen, the club says, is recovering from a concussion. Both Backes and McAvoy took knocks Oct. 18 in Edmonton, and have been missing from game action since. They skated on their own Saturday morning. Kevan Miller, who blocked a shot with his left hand in that overtime loss to the Oilers, could return in several weeks.


■  Though he may need time to find them, Krug’s skating legs will help the Bruins deal with speedy forechecking. The pace at which other teams attack the Bruins’ defense was an issue for Boston in every loss thus far, most glaringly against Calgary and Montreal.

Foot speed is one thing, but “the puck’s faster than the guys,” Chris Wagner noted. “You’ve got to move it quick when you get it. . . . We weren’t changing sides quick enough.” The Bruins also ran into a top-of-his-game Carey Price on Saturday, the Montreal netminder making it look easy.

■  Speed is a hallmark of Carolina and Nashville, where Boston visits Tuesday and Saturday, respectively. Their pushing of the pace, from a skating and thinking standpoint, are why the Hurricanes and Predators are two of the best 5-on-5 teams in the league right now.

Carolina, in particular, is generating more 5-on-5 shots and chances than anyone. Their 61.25 Corsi For percentage, and 302 shots for are best in the league. At five-a-side, only New Jersey is scoring a better percentage of goals (62.96) than the Predators (60.98) and Canes (60.52). In percentage of scoring chances for, Carolina is third, Nashville fifth. What all that means: Both opponents the Bruins will face this week have been bringing it.


The Bruins, by the way, are no worse than 11th in each of the aforementioned categories.

■  Supermen at 5-on-5, both Carolina and Nashville have common Kryptonite: shaky special teams. Krug’s return may help the Bruins take advantage of Carolina’s penalty killing, which is the worst in the league (66.7 percent). Nashville’s isn’t much better (75 percent, ninth worst). Neither has a good power play so far, either: The Canes are successful 11.4 percent of the time (fifth worst), the Preds 14.6 percent (seventh worst).

■  Old pal Claude Julien, as expected, was classy about his first win at TD Garden since the Bruins turfed him in Feb. 2017:

“Like most players, I’m going to tell you the same thing,” he said. “We needed the win. I’m happy we won. I’m happy for Carey (Price, who got a shutout and passed Patrick Roy on the Habs’ career wins list, with 290), what he accomplished and doing it with a shutout. I don’t know. I don’t feel that it’s that big of a deal. The win itself is what’s important for me. Because I have no ill feelings here. There’s no reason to feel like I really stuck it to them.”

■  That quote would make John Tortorella’s skin crawl. Last week, the Columbus coach and Concord native railed about how today’s NHL is too nice. “There’s no hate,” he lamented. “And I miss that. It frustrates the [expletive] out of me, quite honestly.”


On that note, less than two weeks until Toronto comes to town (Nov. 10 at the Garden).

Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports