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Bruins expect goaltender Tuukka Rask to play tomorrow

02.03.17 at 1:55 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask missed Friday's practice. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask missed Friday’s practice. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Already deep into what will be a guaranteed stressful finish to their season, the Bruins are hoping some rest and relaxation will be the key for their best player one day before their biggest game of the season.

Tuukka Rask, absent from Friday’s practice with what the team has termed a maintenance day, and for the second day in a row as the team had a scheduled off day Thursday, but is expected to be ready for the Black and Gold tomorrow night against the Maple Leafs.

“We expect him to be in goal,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who has deployed Rask as the starter for 43 of 54 games this year (Rask has been available in 51 games). “We’d like to get Tuukka maybe less games than he’s had, but at the same time we can’t worry about what it’s gonna be like a month from now, we gotta worry about right now.”

The 29-year-old Rask, who was an All-Star along with Brad Marchand, did not get last weekend off like most of his Bruins teammates, and his game has taken a substantial dip in the calendar year, with just six wins and an .874 save percentage since the start of January. Wednesday night in Washington, a game in which Rask stopped just 17 of 22 shots thrown his way, was perhaps the worst he’s looked this year, at least from a ‘freshness’ standpoint.

But the Bruins hope that a fortunate schedule can bring the best out of the team’s ticket to postseason contention.

“Right now is an important part of the schedule, but it’s also part of the schedule where we’re getting a lot of breaks,” Julien said Friday. “[After Saturday], there’s four more days without a game, then there’s three, and then there’s five more days without a game, so we’re going to do everything we can to give [Tuukka] his rest.”

Rask has 25 wins and a .914 save percentage in 43 games this season.

Bruins winger Frank Vatrano joins WEEI.com’s Josh Dolan for Facebook Live chat

02.03.17 at 1:05 pm ET
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Bruins winger Frank Vatrano joined WEEI.com’s Josh Dolan following Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The two were also bombed by two of Vatrano’s teammates not long into the interview.

Follow WEEI on Facebook for more live videos and the latest news and updates on the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask absent from Bruins practice Friday

02.03.17 at 11:08 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask were not on the ice for Friday's practice. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask were not on the ice for Friday’s practice. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron and ace goaltender Tuukka Rask could not be found on the ice for Friday’s Bruins practice in Brighton.

Bergeron, dinged up in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals when a Matt Niskanen slapshot blasted off the inside of his knee, has been labeled with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. It’s worth noting that Bergeron did attempt to come back from the injury with the Bruins down by two, but retreated back to the room after just two shifts and ended the night with 16:24 of time on ice.

The 31-year-old Bergeron missed the first three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury and battled a lower-body injury to finish last year and has 12 goals and 26 points in 51 games this season.

Ryan Spooner skated in his spot between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak in his place, while Austin Czarnik took his spot on line three.

Meanwhile, the Bruins have called Friday’s absence a maintenance day for the 29-year-old Rask, who said he ‘popped’ his groin late in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals.

Rask is 25-13-4 with a .914 save percentage this season.

The Bruins’ backups have combined for just one win in 12 decisions this season. 2017 AHL All-Star Zane McIntyre, the current backup, has an 0-3-1 record and .860 save percentage in seven games for the Big B’s this season.

The Bruins are back in action Saturday night against the Maple Leafs.

Report: Bruins have interest in Kevin Shattenkirk rental

02.03.17 at 12:51 am ET
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The Bruins and Rangers are among those most interested in Kevin Shattenkirk. (Billy Hurst/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Rangers are among those most interested in Kevin Shattenkirk. (Billy Hurst/USA Today Sports)

Less than a month from the NHL trade deadline, the Bruins are alive in the playoff race and active in the trade market.

Although their current group has managed to keep the team afloat into February, the Bruins could use another scoring presence on their wings (particularly one who could help team score some five-on-five goals on a more consistent basis) or another top-four defenseman.

And while everything is still seemingly in the beginning stages of ‘silly season’, the Bruins have been linked to Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog multiple times, and the idea of acquiring Blues defender Kevin Shattenkirk has been a two-year plot that continues to thicken.

The latter’s name popped up once again in regards to the Bruins on TSN’s latest edition of Insider Trading, too.

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Could the Bruins and Jarome Iginla reunite by the trade deadline?

02.02.17 at 7:22 pm ET
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Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded by the deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla wants to be traded to a playoff contender before next month’s trade deadline. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Future Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla made the right call three summers ago when he left the Bruins to cash in with the Avalanche.

Now he’s hoping the Avalanche will make the right call on him.

In the final year of a three-year deal signed back in 2014, and with the Avalanche in dead last in the entire NHL with just 13 wins and a minus-72 goal differential in 48 games this year, the 39-year-old wants a trade out of the Rocky Mountains to return to a contender.

“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla told Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog on Wednesday. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”

Iginla’s last chance to win it all came with the Presidents’ Trophy winning Bruins in 2014, when he contributed five goals and seven points in 12 games en route to a second-round series loss to the Canadiens. Iginla likely would have remained in town, too, had the Bruins been able to offer a multi-year deal (the Bruins were so tight against the cap that they could only offer Iginla another one-year, bonus-laden contract). The contract length was something of significant importance to Iginla given his age (it was going to be his last big deal and he had already love some money on the tables with a couple of NHL lockouts), as was his desire for stability for his family, which was something he got with the Avs.

But as the Avs prepare their search to find Iginla a new landing spot for the stretch run, you have to wonder if such a search would involve, or at least entertain, the idea of the veteran Iginla reuniting with the Black and Gold for another go.

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Admiral’s Mailbag: It’s time to appreciate Brad Marchand

02.02.17 at 8:55 am ET
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Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Here’s your mailbag …

Brad Marchand has heated back up again and climbed way up in the scoring race [note: after last night’s three point night, Marchand is now tied for third in points with 23-31—54 totals, trailing only Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby]. If he hovers around that area, will he get some MVP votes? Timmy, Dorchester, MA

I think the impish left-winger should definitely be in the conversation if the Bruins manage to make it into the playoffs. After an absolutely torrid start, Marchand’s stats cooled off even though his overall play was pretty consistent. But he’s cranked it up to 11 as of late to vault into the top three in scoring.

It’s tough to imagine where the Bruins would be without him (or without Tuukka Rask for that matter). He’s started out as a fourth-liner six years ago and is now an All-Star that trails only the two best players in the game in points. Though it’s unlikely he’d nose out either of those two superstars, stranger things have happened. Should both ever miss any time, Marchand could easily slide past them to steal the Art Ross (most points). But the Ross is no guarantee of winning either the Hart or the Lindsay. So methinks he’d need to win the scoring title in a runaway to win one of the top MVP awards. Otherwise, the fawning media will award it to either Crosby or McDavid. And really, who can blame them?

What’s up with the Claude talk? It’s goes from ‘happening any minute’ to disappearing once they win three in a row. Charlie, Watertown, MA

Every media member should get a limited amount of times they can “fire” a coach. There should also be a time limits on a firing claim (i.e. if you say a guy’s getting fired in January but it doesn’t happen until June, then you didn’t have it). Because a bunch of reporters here in Boston would have already exceeded their quota on Claude.

What happens a lot of time is a guy or lady “hears something” that is hardly concrete, he/she draws own ultimately incorrect conclusion, then goes out on a limb (but not really) to say a guy’s getting canned. In other cases, a media member just straight up lies knowing full well that it’s almost impossible to prove a source didn’t tell them what they’re claiming. And there are times when front offices, players, agents, etc. use reporters to put out a false story or get their side out to the public. At the end of the day, nobody loses their job when their “reporting” regarding a firing turns out to be bunk. However, their reputation takes a hit and Twitter never forgets.

Who is the biggest disappointment at the break? Who is the biggest surprise? Teddy, Weymouth, MA

The Tampa Bay Lighting, currently six points back of the final playoff spot in the East, have no doubt been the biggest disappointment so far this season. Yes, I know they lost their best player for an extended time. But the Lightning have shown in the past that they can overcome not having Steven Stamkos in the line-up. That’s because they got top-notch goaltending. Unfortunately for them, they’re not getting that this year and it’s why they’re on the outside looking in. For a contender like Tampa Bay, it will be crushing to the franchise if they don’t even make the post-season.

It’s kind of hard not to pick the Columbus Blue Jackets for biggest surprise. After garnering just 76 points last season, absolutely nobody thought the John Tortorella-led squad would make a run at Pittsburgh’s most consecutive wins record this year. But they did just that in wining 16 straight games, coming up one game short of tying the record. The run did allow them to stockpile much-needed points because, despite the winning streak, they’re four points behind first-place Washington (thought Columbus has two games in hand). Still, it was a damn impressive accomplishment and let other teams know that the Blue Jackets are legit.

Capitals’ Brett Connolly becomes latest ex-Bruin to stick it to former club

02.02.17 at 5:01 am ET
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Capitals forward Brett Connolly  became the fifth ex-Bruin to score against the team this season. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Capitals forward Brett Connolly became the fifth ex-Bruin to score against the team this season. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

I had to rub my eyes. The picture was clear, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Brett Connolly received a pass, handled it perfectly, and found the seams in the B’s defense to bury his opportunity on Tuukka Rask and extend his team’s lead to two in the third period.

Shocked, I had to check my roster sheet and make sure that the Capitals did not have more than one Connolly than Brett the Bruin-turned-Capital. Nope. It was real, and it was him.

Connolly had scored a goal against the Bruins. A pretty one, too.

If Connolly, who might honestly have been the most snakebit man in the world last year (note: that was before I watched Patrice Bergeron this season), even tried that move a year ago, he would have tripped over his own body, lost the puck, and somehow landed in the penalty box with a bad penalty. But go figure, in just his 37th game with the Capitals, Connolly recorded his ninth goal of the season, the same he had in 71 games with the Bruins last season, and 76 games overall if you care to include his five-game sample from the year before. It was a goal that held as the game-winner for the Capitals in a 5-3 final over the Black and Gold.

Because of course.

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