Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has opted out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the team announced Saturday. Boston is currently tied 1-1 in the first round of the playoffs in a series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rask — a Vezina Trophy finalist who led the NHL in the regular season with a 2.12 goals-against average and who was second in save percentage and shutouts — said he opted out due to a desire to be with his family:
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Rask and his wife Jasmiina have three young girls together, including newborn Livia, who arrived in late April. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney on Saturday said Rask’s return to his family wasn’t triggered by a specific incident, saying they were safe and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic. He added that the team stood by his reasoning to opt out.
It’s also worth noting that Rask, a Finnish national, has been away from his wife and children for some time to help the Bruins in their postseason bid:
Foreign nationals – including Canadians on US teams – are mostly on work visas that expired June 30. Lots of them returned to their team’s city in mid-June and almost no one brought family.
So for some players, you’re now approaching 60 days away from your family… https://t.co/VKtSwaIMYW
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) August 15, 2020
While Rask’s family was the key motivator in his decision to opt out, he also hasn’t much enjoyed playing in the NHL’s bubble atmosphere — even as the league has progressed to the postseason:
“To be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there. There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game,” Rask said following Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday. “It’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there. You try and play as hard as you can. When you’re playing at a home rink and an away rink and the fans are cheering for and against you, it really creates a buzz for the series.
“There’s none of that. So it just feels like dull at times. There are moments when there are scrums and whatnot, and then there will be five minutes when it’s coast-to-coast hockey. There’s no atmosphere. So it feels like an exhibition game. We’re trying our best to ramp and get energized, and make it feel like it’s a playoff game.”
Veteran backup Jaroslav Halak is expected to get the start for Boston in Game 3 of the Hurricanes series on Saturday.