For whatever reason, there is a portion of the Boston Bruins fan base that loves to hate Tuukka Rask. Since Rask took over the starting job from Tim Thomas in the 2012-13 season, he has been among the NHL’s elite goaltenders. He was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie for his play during the 2013-14 season and earlier this season he became Boston’s franchise leader in wins, surpassing the previous record of 252 set by Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson.
Despite all of this, there are people who still seem to think that Rask has a reputation of not showing up for important games. Well, after his play this postseason, it might be time for all Bruins fans to recognize that Rask is among the NHL’s elite.
Rask Has Been Bruins’ Playoff MVP
The Bruins are loaded with elite offensive talent, mainly on their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, but players like Torey Krug, David Krejci and Charlie Coyle have contributed at important times during this playoff run. However, without the outstanding performances from Rask, the Bruins would likely be watching the playoffs from home.
Rask’s numbers through the first two rounds of the playoffs show just how important he has been to the team’s success. His .938 save percentage ranks first among goalies with at least four games played, while his 2.02 goals-against average ranks second behind Robin Lehner.
Not only has Rask been nearly unbeatable all postseason, but he has been even better in games where the Bruins are facing elimination or in a position to close out a series. In three critical games, Rask has posted a 3-0 record with a 1.00 GAA, .969 SV% and one shutout. It might be time to drop the narrative that he can’t play in big games because Rask has dominated in those situations during this playoff run.
Rask Among Bruins’ All-Time Greats
At 32-years-old, Rask longer has to try and prove himself. At this point, he is trying to add to his legacy as one of the best ever to suit up between the pipes for the Bruins. Some fans have been quick to dismiss Rask when talking about the best and love to point out that he has not won a Stanley Cup as the starter. This is true for now, but there are plenty of players who have never won a Cup but are still surefire Hall of Famers. Names like Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist come to mind and nobody seems to question their legacy.
It may be early to get into the Hall of Fame debate, but Rask deserves credit for what he has accomplished with the Bruins. Of all the goalies who have played at least 100 games for Boston, Rask is behind only Tiny Thompson with a 2.28 GAA, and tied for first with Tim Thomas with a .921 SV%.
The numbers show that he is one of the best to play for the Bruins, and there is still a lot of time left to add to his win total before he retires, but until he brings the Stanley Cup back to Boston, there will always be those who question his greatness. With the Bruins advancing to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2013, this could be the perfect opportunity for Rask to finally silence his critics for good.