Game Day: Devils vs. Bruins
Friday, 11.27.2009 / 9:05 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Tuukka Rask led the Bruins out of the locker room. He will be the starter this afternoon.
I am heading over to the live blog. Click the link to the right to follow the game with me.
Coach Julien declined to name a starter in goal and left the possibility open that Tim Thomas could get the nod in goal.
Thomas has played 13 career games against the Devils and has a 4-4-3 record with one shutout and a 2.36 GAA and a .922 sv%.
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli says that Milan Lucic has a high-ankle sprain.
"He'll probably be out for around four weeks," said Chiarelli. "It could be less, but with these things it's difficult [to predict].
"It could be less and it could be a little more."
Lucic had played the last four games after returning from a hand injury suffered on Oct. 16th versus Dallas.
He had goals against Buffalo and St. Louis and was 2-3-5 in 10 games played this season.
His replacement, Vladimir Sobotka, has 1-2-3 totals in 15 games this season, but did not dress in the Bruins last two contests.
Sobotka was recalled on Oct. 18th from Providence.
"We'll have to add a player at some point; that'll be from Providence," said Chiarelli of his contingency plan. "Vladdy will go into the lineup, obviously."
Rask Remains Up to the Task
Tuukka Rask continues to turn heads.
The rookie netminder has filled in admirably for last year's Vezina Trophy winner, Tim Thomas, and has earned a "1B" designation from head coach Claude Julien in lieux of a "backup" description.
Rask has a four-game win streak in progress (with all four wins coming in consecutive games on the road) and is 4-1-0 over the last five games.
Rask, who was ranked second in wins in the AHL last season and earned a shutout in his only NHL action in 2008-09, has a 7-2-1 record with a 2.13 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
"It was a tough road trip," said Rask. "But you still have to dig deep and find a way and today we did a good job there, finding a way to win."
Rask has seen action in one game agains the Devils and took an overtime loss in 2007-08 when he filled in for Tim Thomas when the veteran goalie left a tied game late vs. New Jersey .
Tuukka Rask isn't the only Bruins youngster to step up into a major role recently. Byron Bitz has certainly made the most of his time on the first line with Marco Sturm and Marc Savard.
Bitz explained that he is just enjoying the ride.
"The two guys, Savvy and Sturmy, that I’m playing with now have done a great job of just saying go out and have fun...and just enjoy the experience," he said. "We have fun out there and Savvy’s always talking and he makes it a lot of fun.
"He makes great plays."
And that's exactly how his goal happened on Wednesday -- with a little help from defenseman Derek Morris.
"Savvy won the draw and Mo made a great shot," explained Bitz. "If that shot’s at my waist or at my knees I can’t do anything with it.
"He saw that I was open in front and put it right along the ice where I was able to tip and get it up so Mo made a great look there with a great heads up play."
Yikes! It's a little early to be getting ready for a hockey game, but that's exactly what the Bruins are doing at this early hour. Today, the B's take part in what has become as much a tradition as the early Red Sox game on Marathon Morning/Patriot's Day -- the post-Thanksgiving double header at the Garden.
The Bruins take on the New Jersey Devils at noon and the Celtics take on the Toronto Raptors at 7:30. The TD Garden's world famous "Bull Gang" will put on their show in between games when they turn the Garden over from hockey to basketball.
But all of that is overshadowed by the Bruins healthy situation. Due to injury, goalie Tim Thomas has dressed as Tuukka Rask's backup for the past five games -- this is the longest Tim has gone without playing since he missed six games with a groin strain from Dec. 6-15, 2007.
Furthermore, the Bruins have just announced that Peter Chiarelli will speak regarding Milan Lucic at 10:30 a.m. Lucic took a nasty spill on Wednesday evening.
"Well, you guys saw," said Julien after the B's victory in St. Paul. "He got his skate stuck in a rut and right now there’s nothing definitive about his situation, it’s just one of those things where we’ll probably have a better idea..before the game against New Jersey.
"We’ll probably be able to get you guys a little bit more [then]."
As far as his rookie goalie is concerned, Coach Julien remains unconcerned about having to rely on him until Thomas is ready.
"Well I guess he’s what you’d call a back up, but he’s not really a back up," said Julien. "He’s one of those...franchise goaltenders and we’re fortunate right now to have two of those guys that puts us in the position [where] our players feel real comfortable with whoever we put in net.
"They play with a lot of confidence in front of those guys, so it’s an advantage for us and it gives our goaltenders a chance to rest or heal or whatever the situation is."