Bruins debut: Dan Vladar
Dan Vladar made the rare feat of being the first goalie in the history of the Boston Bruins to make his NHL debut in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He entered the game as a reliever for Jaroslav Halak in one of their games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was a crucial time for the Bruins at the time. Although it ended as a loss, his debut marked the first goalie to do so in the playoffs since Jake Allen went to play for the St. Louis Blues in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals.
He entered the game in what was considered to be garbage time in games. Boston lost that game and fell behind in the seven-game series. It wasn't that he didn't want to come in as a goalie for the Bruins, but he didn’t have any choice as his name was called up to play.
‘Listen, it was at a point where we felt that if we need Dan Vladar, maybe this is a better way to get him some work’, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. ‘Less a reflection on Jaro. Give him a break. Tampa got energized from that second period, and I think we were deflated. I just had a gut feeling our guys were going to have a tough time pushing back from three goals down, so let's get a look at Vladdy’.
The absence of Tuukka Rask allowed him to play that same spot, and Vladar got his chance to show his talent in a tight game. Rask and Halak could have easily shifted between the first three games. Instead, Halak took over Game 2 and 3, and they lost both games.
Vladar was 14-7-1 in 25 games back in the AHL when he played for Providence. He was just glad to show his talent in the NHL back then and he surely did a great job in doing so.
‘I'm glad he got an opportunity to play’. Cassidy said of giving a chance for Vladar to play in the game. ‘I don't wish it in that circumstance, but it is what it is, and he got some work. Hopefully, he's better off for it down the road’.
Vladar saved the first three shots he had and only let one goal slip away in the fourth. Only three goals got past him in the 15 tries that Lightning made in this debut. Although it was not much of a highlight night, he still made things count which eventually helped the Bruins come up with some chances. They just couldn’t get the job done in that game and so they lost it.
Rask decided to leave Toronto and returned home to his family. Bruins president Cam Neely said that the situation was a family emergency, and in the blink of an eye, Vladar was in the game.
Seeing Vladar’s fine game in the playoffs proved that he had talent in him, and the Bruins will definitely come up with a way to use him in the season beyond this one. After all, they could always use someone who is young and teachable, and the 23-year-old Vladar is perfect for that note.
If the Bruins keep him and make him into a bigger version of Rask, then they might just have the future in their hands. Vladar might be a centrepiece for them soon.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores