Rask returns as Bruins take on Avs
The Boston Bruins got a little stronger ahead of their four-game road trip.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask returned from a team-approved leave of absence to deal with a family matter and returned to practice on Tuesday. He was joined by 2015 first-round draft pick Jacob Zboril, who was recalled Tuesday. The 21-year-old defenseman could make his NHL debut against the Avalanche, and he’s feeling a mix of nerves and anticipation.
“When I got the call yesterday, I started sweating right away. I got so nervous,” he told the Boston Herald on Tuesday. “Right now, after practice I’m pretty confident, and I’m excited for it.”
Rask, who is 4-4-0 in eight games, will likely not play against Colorado. Jaroslav Halak is scheduled to start after making 77 saves in two weekend games, both victories.
Rask didn’t specify his reason for needing a leave but said his family is OK. He was thankful for the support from the team while he was tending to his family situation.
“My job is to be a hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins. I also have another job title, and that’s a family man,” Rask told reporters on Tuesday. “This was a time that I felt deep inside my heart that I needed to be with my family and make things right so I could get back here and focus on my job. That took three days, I’m back here, I’m back to work, and I’m ready to battle with these guys.
“At the end of the day, I realized that a hockey career is a very short career, but your life is much longer than that. I appreciate that I got the privacy at the time I needed. I’m ready to move on now.”
The Bruins (10-5-2) take on a Colorado team that ended a frustrating five-game losing streak on Sunday. The Avalanche beat Edmonton after some tough losses, three of which came against division opponents. They blew a three-goal lead in Calgary on Friday and then a late 6-5 lead at Vancouver the next night.
Colorado (8-6-3) has been getting strong production from its top line but has struggled to find secondary scoring. Going into Tuesday’s action winger Mikko Rantanen led the NHL with 26 points and teammate Nathan MacKinnon was third with 24. Captain Gabe Landeskog is sixth in goals with 11 (which is tied with MacKinnon.
The Avalanche got a much-needed boost with the return of 20-year-old center Tyson Jost. Jost missed four games with a head injury but scored a goal in Friday’s loss at Winnipeg.
“It’s great to have him back,” coach Jared Bednar told reporters over the weekend. “I thought he was skating real well. He was playing through people with and without the puck. He gets the puck on and off his tape in the scoring areas, and he was pulling the trigger on his shot real well.”
The Avalanche did get forward Matt Nieto back after missing one game and right winger Sven Andrighetto is moving closer to a return from a lower body injury. He has missed five games and will most likely not play Wednesday against the Bruins. Colorado is shooting for him to return on the team’s road trip that begins in Anaheim on Sunday.
While the Avalanche will roll out two of the top three scorers against Boston, the Bruins are just as formidable. David Pastrnak led the league with 16 goals before Tuesday’s games and Patrice Bergeron was second in scoring with 25 points.