The Boston Bruins will be without their No. 1 goalie for the remainder of the 2020 NHL playoffs.
Tuukka Rask announced Saturday that he was opting out of the playoffs with Boston tied 1-1 in its first-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I want to be with my teammates competing,” Rask said in a statement, “but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.
“I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”
The 33-year-old Rask and his wife Jasmiina Nikkila recently had a baby daughter and they have two other young girls.
“We understand completely where Tuukka’s coming from. It was no big surprise to us,” general manager Don Sweeney said. “He just felt that he needed to be home with [his kids]. I give Tuukka a hell of a lot of credit for trying to persevere thru. The priorities are in the right order so this is what he has to do at this time.”
The Bruins will turn to backup and former Islander Jaroslav Halak for Game 3 Saturday afternoon.
Rask is the first player to opt out since the league began hosting its postseason last month in two bubble environments in Edmonton and Toronto. Other players opted out before the tournament began.
His decision comes just two days after he made eyebrow-raising comments following Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes, in which he didn’t seem too concerned about the result.
“I’m just trying to have fun and play the game,” Rask said. “I’m not stressing too much about results and whatnot. It’s August and I haven’t played hockey in forever. Just go out there and have fun and see what happens for me.”
“To be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey,” Rask told reporters Thursday. “There’s no fans. It’s kind of like you’re playing an exhibition game. Obviously, there are some scrums after the whistle. I haven’t noticed that they would be targeting me or whatnot. Things happen, people falling on you and whatnot. But it’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere.”
Rask, a 2014 Vezina Trophy winner, earned an All-Star nod this season after one of his most dominant years since joining the Bruins in the 2007-08 season. He posted a 26-8 record this season, along with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He won a Stanley Cup with Boston as the backup in 2011.
The NHL has reported no positive COVID-19 test results in its Toronto and Edmonton bubbles for two straight weeks.