This is probably not what the Boston Bruins had in mind for a massive game with a playoff spot on the line. 

The team announced just before the start of their game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask will not be available due to illness (if you're interested in just how sick Rask is, Bruins beat writer Fluto Shinzawa provided the graphic details).

Instead of Rask, clearly the Bruins' best goalie, it will be Jonas Gustavsson facing the Senators in what is pretty much a must-win game for the Bruins.

Just hours before the start of the game the Bruins announced that Jeremy Smith was called up from Providence of the AHL on an emergency basis. 

Rask was on the ice for pre-game warmups but only took a few shots before leaving the ice.

Obviously, a situation like this can be a huge factor in the playoff race. Even with a win on Saturday against the Senators the Bruins need some help from either the Red Wings or Flyers to get in. It is possible they could still get in with a loss, but they would need the Flyers to lose both games this weekend against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and the New York Islanders on Sunday. 

In 64 games this season Rask has a .915 save percentage for the Bruins. Gustavsson is just behind him at .910.

Fortunately for the Bruins, the Senators are out of the playoff picture and are playing with a depleted lineup of their own on Saturday. So it's not like the Bruins are going up against one of the NHL's powerhouse teams. Still, this is not the ideal situation for the Bruins.

UPDATE: So much for that. The Senators ended up rolling to a 6-1 win over the Bruins.


Tuukka Rask will not play for the Boston Bruins on Saturday. (USATSI)
Tuukka Rask will not play for the Boston Bruins on Saturday. (USATSI)