The announcement came two days after the team’s game against the Buffalo Sabres in which Rask and the Bruins won 3-2 in overtime.
Tuukka Rask gets start for Boston Bruins in 2019 Winter Classic
Rask has posted a 9-8-2 record with a 2.67 goals-against average in his 19 games played. After a tough start to the season, Rask began to pick up his play again before dropping two games with a combined eight goals allowed. He turned things around again in the overtime win against Buffalo.
His counterpart, Jaroslav Halak, has been solid in net for the Bruins this year with a 12-6-2 record and a goals-against average of 2.28 in 22 games played.
The 33-year-old goaltender has worked alongside Rask to get the Bruins into the first Wild Card spot in a tough Eastern Conference. However, Rask may still be the number one for Boston with this announcement.
The choice to pick Rask for the nationally televised game might come from the fact that Rask is the goaltender who is advertised as the starter around the league. The Bruins are also paying him $7 million this year opposed to Halak’s $3.5 million and a start in the Winter Classic may be more about how the Bruins advertise rather than who will get them what could be a sure win.
The game, although a regular season one that counts toward the standings, is much more than that. The Winter Classic brings in a lot of viewers that may not otherwise watch the two teams playing. However, the annual event’s ratings have been on a decline since 2014, so advertising has to be strong in order to pull in viewers.
By starting Rask, Bruins management may be doing more than just trying to take two points. As the 12-year member of the Bruins, Rask’s name sells better that Halak, who is in his first year.
The game against the Blackhawks also has another added bit in the goaltending situation. Chicago is currently in third to last in the Western Conference after playing exactly half of their games this season. The team that was once a dynasty with three Stanley Cups in six years has since dropped off. The decision to put Rask in may be a good move to boost sales and ratings while also having a safe game for him to go in.
The Bruins social media team posted pictures on the of Rask’s helmet on Dec. 28. The helmet features the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo wearing a team beanie and the Winter Classic Jersey the Bruins will wear for the game.
Tuukka Rask mask will be worn on Tues. Jan1 at Notre Dame Stadium pic.twitter.com/tXMXndOUpS
— Eric Olson (@eolson52001) December 30, 2018
The post was believed to be a hint that Rask was getting the start, but Rask has created a helmet for all three outdoor games he’s been on the roster for, so it wasn’t out of place for him to do so before hearing the official announcement.
Rask in the Winter Classic
Rask has been on the team for the three Winter Classic games the Bruins have played in. He was on the bench in 2010 and then played in 2016, where he let up five goals on 30 shots in a 5-1 loss. Rask will get his chance to win his first Winter Classic on the first of January.
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