Earlier this month, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask left the NHL bubble suddenly for a family emergency, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted they are feeling his absence. The Bruins are currently down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the team has been struggling in a variety of ways.
Cassidy says that with Rask gone, there is definitely a hole in the locker room.
"Listen, we've said it before: We support Tuukka's decision 100%," Cassidy said via the Associated Press. "It does affect you mentally and it affects how you sort of construct your lineup when you had those back-to-backs."
Rask left the Stanley Cup Playoff bubble on Aug. 15 after the round robin and two first-round games against the Carolina Hurricanes. Rask brings significant postseason experience to the table, seeing action in 93 career postseason starts with a 51-42 record and an impressive .926 save percentage.
With Rask gone, Jaroslav Halak has been filling in as starter. Halak has a 4-3 record since Rask's departure, recording a .906 save percentage. Dan Vladar also got an opportunity for the Bruins, coming in for Halak in a Game 4 blowout loss to the Lightning.
The Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy and were the No. 1 team in the regular season. Now, however, as Rask remains absent, they face elimination in Game 5.