Boston Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, has been the top option in Boston since the 2012-13 season. He’s been one of the best and most successful goalies in the league during that time. Despite helping the Bruins reach two Stanley Cup Finals, many in Boston unfairly criticize Rask for his lack of Stanley Cup victories.
Tuukka Rask Deserves Better from Boston
During his 13 year career, Rask has a 0.922 save percentage, 2.26 goals-against-average and 291 wins. His save percentage and goals-against-average rank at the top among active goaltenders while his 291 wins are seventh-most among active goalies.
Rask’s regular-season save percentage is tied for the best in NHL history for a goaltender with 200 starts. This season Rask has posted a 0.929 save-percentage in 41 games, which is second in the league among goalies with at least 30 games played. He’s one of the top choices to win this year’s Vezina Trophy.
Tuukka Rask’s Importance to Boston
When Rask took over as the starter in Boston, the team was one full season removed from winning the Stanley Cup. A championship that was headlined by Tim Thomas‘s remarkable postseason run. One of the greatest postseasons by a goalie in history.
Rask came in with expectations through the roof and massive shoes to fill. Thomas left as a legend and champion. Nonetheless, Rask came in and exceeded expectations. He brought the Bruins to the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals where they would lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
The manner of the loss caused many Boston fans to turn on Rask. With the lead in the final minutes, the Bruins surrendered two goals in 17 seconds and lost the series. Boston needed a scapegoat for a stunning defeat. Despite posting an incredible 0.940 save-percentage during the 2013 postseason, many fans and media blamed Rask for the loss.
The following season, Rask came back with a vengeance. He was named an all-star and won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. In the regular season, Rask posted a save percentage of 0.930 with a 2.04 goals-against-average. In the postseason, Rask had a 0.928 save percentage and a 1.99 goals-against-average before losing in the second round.
Tuukka Rask is well-liked in the Bruins locker room and has been for years. The organization believes in him and has rewarded him fairly. His contract is worth an average-annual-value of $7 million — making him tied for the fourth-highest paid goalie in the league.
Rask is a top-four goaltender and is his contract represents that. For what it’s worth, among the five largest goalie contracts, only one of them has won a Stanley Cup (Marc-Andre Fleury).
Unfair Postseason Criticism
The biggest reason for the disdain of Rask is his postseason resume. Boston fans and media, rightfully so, look at their core group and see a Stanley Cup victory with Tim Thomas in net and two Stanley Cup losses with Rask in the net.
However, fans seem to forget that Tim Thomas’s Bruins missed the playoffs twice and lost before the Conference Finals three times before going on to win the Stanley Cup.
Rask’s postseason save percentage of 0.927 is ninth in NHL history. His 50 postseason wins are 19th all-time and his seven postseason shutouts are 20th all-time. Rask ranks as a top 20 postseason goalie in each of those categories.
Among goalies that appeared in 10-plus games last postseason, Rask had the highest save percentage (0.934). A higher save percentage and more saves than the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues goaltender, Jordan Binnington.
Tuukka Rask was the best goalie in the playoffs in both of the Bruins trips to the Stanley Cup Final. In Game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, it took Boston’s offence 57 minutes and the goalie pulled to score their only goal of the game. By then it was far too late.
Tuukka Rask: The Forgotten Star
Tuukka Rask is Boston’s forgotten star. He’s a key part of the Bruins core including Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci. Rask has been the victim of a selective memory amongst Boston fans.
In a city that expects championships every year, Rask is without one. Despite being one of, if not the best, goalie in team history he’s not treated as such. He’s fallen victim to being Tim Thomas’s successor.
Thomas set the bar so high in 2011 with a jaw-dropping postseason performance that if Rask doesn’t live up to that then fans won’t appreciate him for the talent he is. Boston praises legends like Rick Middleton and Cam Neely yet they never won a Stanley Cup.
Tuukka Rask has battled his entire career for respect in Boston. Regardless of how a game plays out, Chara, Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak get most of the credit when the Bruins win. But Rask takes the brunt of the blame when they lose.
Tuukka Rask is an elite goaltender and should be respected as such. The Bruins won’t trade him despite many fans calling for it. Because there will be a day when Rask is gone and the Bruins don’t have elite goaltending — so appreciate it before it’s gone.