March 3, 2012

Rask the latest Bruin bitten by injury bug

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON – Since the week leading up to the All-Star break, incessant attacks by the injury bug have left the Bruins dropping like flies. 

First it was Nathan Horton with a concussion. Then it was Rich Peverley with a knee injury. Then came another concussion, this time to Johnny Boychuk. On Thursday, the club lost Andrew Ference to a lower-body injury.

One would think that, at some point, enough would be enough and the Bruins would be able to regain some semblance of health. Unfortunately, on Saturday afternoon, the injury bug snuck up again and bit the B’s twice.

In addition to Dan Paille’s exodus midway through the contest with an undisclosed injury, the Bruins were dealt a mighty scare when Tuukka Rask keeled over in his crease with an apparent lower-body ailment. Trainer Don DelNegro rushed to the netminder’s side and, after a few minutes passed, Rask was helped to the B’s bench by teammates Joe Corvo and Greg Zanon.

“As soon as he went down, you know as a goalie, I’m at least coming in right away this game,” said Tim Thomas, who was forced to come in cold at the 9:01 mark of the second period. “You never know about things sometimes. Things could look terrible on the ice and they don’t end up taking a lot of time out to recover, or there is a lot of times you don’t even see the injury and then it’s something that ends up being really long term.”

Rask reportedly left the arena on crutches after the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the lowly Islanders and, as expected, won’t be joining the team for a two-game road trip that begins on Sunday afternoon in New York against the Rangers.

Michael Hutchinson, who’s 6-11-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .920 save percentage for the Providence Bruins this season, has been called up to fill the void.

“What can I say? It is what it is,” coach Claude Julien said when asked about Rask’s injury being untimely. “You’re right. You’re hoping to be able to utilize your two goaltenders in this stretch because the next two weeks, there’s about four games per week. So we’ll have to make do some way.”

Everyone inside the Bruins’ dressing room recognizes the significance of losing Rask, regardless of how long the netminder takes to recover.

“It’s obviously not great to see him not be able to get up after an effort to make a save,” winger Milan Lucic said. “He’s been a big part of this team as well throughout the whole season. So it sucks that he had to leave the game and hopefully he’s going to get better soon.”

If the Bruins hope to right the ship and turn things around, the sooner they’re not wishing a teammate a speedy recovery after every game, the better.