(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Carter Hochman | Follow Me On Twitter @Carterr33

Listen, the anticipation for bringing Tuukka Rask back into the lineup had us all (or at least most of us) on the edge of our seats for most of the season in one way or another. Those of us who pay attention knew that it would ultimately result in Jeremy Swayman being sent down to Providence which inevitably ruffled some feathers.

The big question mark remained: how will Tuukka do? Especially considering he was supposed to get two games in Providence, but those ended up getting canceled due to Covid-related issues. Well, we kind of got our answer. But then again, not really.

In his first game back, Rask would be in between the pipes against the Philadelphia Flyers, a team who’d been struggling for wins and consistency in their previous five games. It was the perfect game to have him back to get some reps in, dust off the pads, and clean off any rust. Needless to say, Rask looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, stopping multiple breakaways that would’ve easily changed the face of the game.

The two goals that went in were not his fault either (unless you ask the ever-faithful Rask haters, in which case they were both egregious, and he should’ve retired five years ago). Tuukka finished the night with 25 saves on 27 shots. All felt well in Bruins nation… or so we thought.

We then find out that Rask will be back in net against one of the best and hottest teams in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes, and it would come on the night that the Bruins were retiring the legendary Willie O’Ree’s #22. An interesting decision by Bruce Cassidy especially considering the fact that Rask had only played in one game against a relatively mediocre team in mediocre form, was likely still rusty and probably wasn’t fully ready, along with the fact that Linus Ullmark’s play over his last several games had been slowly increasing in quality. Either way, the ceremony took place, happy tears were shed (which I shamelessly admit), and it was time for the game to start.

It was evident almost immediately that something was off, not with Rask but with the five skaters in front of him. It didn’t matter who it was, but whoever was on the ice had a shockingly horrific night of hockey. No fluidity, no ability to break out of their own zone, no offensive creativity, and no defensive pressure on the puck.

Granted, some of it is obviously contributed to Carolina’s very solid and aggressive play, but my goodness, the Bruins had a shocker of a night. It led to five goals on twelve shots on Tuukka, none of which he could’ve done absolutely anything with. Boy, oh, boy did the Rask-haters have to put on a bib from salivating too much at the fact that he had to be pulled after the first period. Let me be clear: that game is and was on the skaters on the ice, and Tuukka was left out to dry in an embarrassing night for the whole franchise.

Rest assured, Tuukka will get his shot at redemption, and you best believe the locker room got an earful from Bruce Cassidy after that game. Rask is fine, Ullmark is fine, Swayman is fine, everyone take a breath.