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Tuukka Rask doesn’t read, doesn’t listen to criticism, will start vs. Preds 03.28.17 at 4:08 pm ET
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Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will start tonight against the Predators. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will start tonight against the Predators. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

After what’s felt like an eternity of radio-driven drama and controversy after Rask tapped out of playing in last Saturday’s must-win game against the Islanders (he did not even travel with the team), Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is ready to return to his crease.

“Tuukka is healthy. That’s what he indicated to me, and that’s all I need to hear,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said after the optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “He’ll be our starter tonight.”

The 30-year-old Rask was saddled with the loss in his last outing after he allowed five goals on 28 shots against, including a really, really soft goal surrendered to Jonathan Drouin in the third period, and was by all means called out by Cassidy after his poor showing.

Almost a week later, Cassidy revisited those comments.

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John-Michael Liles to play over Colin Miller as Bruins host Predators 03.28.17 at 3:32 pm ET
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John-Michael Liles will be in the lineup tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

John-Michael Liles will be in the lineup tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in over a month, veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles will find himself back in game action tonight.

Confirmed as a go for tonight’s game by Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy following Tuesday’s optional morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, the veteran Liles will suit up over Colin Miller.

It’s a somewhat expected shuffle for a B’s group that’s dropped four of their last five games, and one that prevents the 36-year-old Liles from accumulating more rink rust in the TD Garden press box.

“Being a veteran player will help him, obviously he’s been through some of this,” Cassidy said of Liles’ long layoff. “He went in earlier in Dallas and he hadn’t played in a stretch and did a good job for us.

“We’ve stayed consistent on the backend,” Cassidy, whose defensive rotations have changed at times, but basically remained the same six-man group, said. “We’re making a change.. this time of year we just feel John is a good fit and we’ll get him in tonight.”

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Waiting game officially on for Bruins, top prospect Charlie McAvoy 03.27.17 at 2:53 pm ET
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The Bruins are expected to sign Charlie McAvoy this week. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are expected to sign Charlie McAvoy this week. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney may have been the happiest person in Boston when the Boston University Terriers were bounced from the NCAA tournament by Minnesota-Duluth last Saturday.

With the Terriers eliminated, the Bruins are now free — or expected, rather — to sign top prospects Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Charlie McAvoy to their entry-level contracts and potentially have at least one of them join the organization for their stretch run to finish the season.

There was already an interest from Forsbacka Karlsson to go pro after this season according to a report published less than two weeks ago, and McAvoy doesn’t seem too far behind in regards to his interest.

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Bruins center David Krejci leaves practice with upper-body injury 03.27.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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David Krejci left Monday's practice early. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Krejci left Monday’s practice early. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins practice began with David Krejci in his usual spot in the middle of the club’s second line. But Krejci departed off the ice and back to the inner workings of the maze known as Warrior Ice Arena long before practice came to a close, and Ryan Spooner finished practice in Krejci’s spot with Drew Stafford and David Pastrnak on his wings.

That’s certainly not how Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team snapped their four-game losing streak with last Saturday’s 2-1 final over the Islanders, drew up his Monday morning plans, either.

“He’s got a bit of an upper-body issue,” Cassidy said of Krejci’s early exit. “A little discomfort, he got treatment. I believe he’ll be fine tomorrow, I don’t think it’s anything major, but I can’t speculate.”

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Tuukka Rask returns to Bruins practice, expects to play tomorrow 03.27.17 at 1:39 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask believes he'll be ready to play tomorrow. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask believes he’ll be ready to play tomorrow. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins were forced to roll without No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask in last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders, but with Zane McIntyre returned to Providence late last night, and Rask back on the ice today, it’s clear how the 30-year-old Rask feels heading into the week.

“Good day back on the ice,” Rask said after Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “See what the decision is [tomorrow], but I felt good today. Got another morning skate tomorrow and go from there.”

The optics of Rask bailing out of the closest thing to a must-win game that the Black and Gold have had this season against are obviously quite terrible for the oft-criticized netminder, and that basically goes without saying (especially after he missed last year’s win-and-you’re-in finale against the Senators), but it was a decision that made sense.

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Captain Zdeno Chara named Bruins’ nominee for 2017 Masterton Memorial Trophy 03.27.17 at 11:33 am ET
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B's captain Zdeno Chara has been selected as the Bruins' nominee for the Masterton Trophy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

B’s captain Zdeno Chara has been selected as the Bruins’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has selected Zdeno Chara as the Bruins’ nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the award annually awarded to the NHL player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

In his 11th season with the Bruins, the now 40-year-old captain has remained a fixture on the B’s top-pairing, with eight goals and 24 points in 68 games this season, along with 23:11 of time on ice per game (the 31st-most in the NHL), and a league-leading 258:45 of total shorthanded time on ice and 3:48 of shorthanded time on ice per night for a B’s penalty kill that begins the week as the third-best in the NHL.

Chara also ranks 19th among for Corsi-For percentage among NHL defensemen with at least 1,000 minutes of time on ice this year, at 53.4 percent, and has been the Black and Gold’s best defender.

On top of being the anchor of the B’s point, Chara also has taken on a mentoring role for first-year pro Brandon Carlo.

Off the ice, Chara annually takes part in the Bruins’ Cuts for Cause to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, as well as the Bruins Holiday Toy Delivery to local children’s hospitals. For the second straight year, Chara teamed with Cradles to Crayons, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and Department of Children and Families throughout the month of February to present the annual “PJ Drive” presented by Freihofer’s and Roche Brothers to benefit Massachusetts’ underprivileged youth. The PJ Drive provides new, unused pajamas to children in need across Massachusetts. Over 75,000 Massachusetts children have received PJ’s through the Bruins PJ drive over the past nine years.

He is also the fourth-oldest player in the NHL behind Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan, and Matt Cullen.

The Bruins have had four Masterton winners in their franchise history — Charlie Simmer in 1986, Gord Kluzak in 1990, Cam Neely in 1994, and Phil Kessel in 2006 — and have one Masterton winner on their current roster (Dominic Moore in 2014).

The Bruins do not have a goalie controversy, but… 03.25.17 at 11:23 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin stopped 18-of-19 shots in a win over the Isles. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin stopped 18-of-19 shots in a win over the Isles. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Let’s all take a deep breath and not lose our heads over one solid start from Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, OK?

(Proceeds to hyperventilate and immediately lose head.)

The Bruins were in a near must-win situation — much like they have been all week, and with zero wins before Saturday — but with Tuukka Rask back in Boston with a lower-body injury that flared up and kept him out of Friday’s practice, the Bruins were forced to turn to the hot-and-cold Khudobin on in Brooklyn. Khudobin has been in some pressure spots of late, sure, but nothing quite like this.

And in need of a win, Khudobin delivered just that, with stops on 18 of 19 shots thrown his way, including a perfect eight for eight mark on Islander power-play shots fired on net. It was hardly Khudobin’s hardest night in the crease from a shot volume standpoint, of course, but for the number of times it crumbled to pure chaos in front of Khudobin, letting in just one goal spoke to what has to be considered Khudobin’s best game of the year.

It’s also prompted some talk of riding the ‘hot hand’ and sitting Rask for Khudobin.

It’s actually not the worst idea, but not for the reasons you’d think.

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