Boston Bruins: Grading the Goalie Situation and Tuukka Rask so Far
It’s hard to believe that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was starting in goal during the “Great Collapse” of 2010 when the Bruins had a 3-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals and ended up losing the series four games later. During the season of 2010-11, two time Vezina winner Tim Thomas took Rask’s place and helped Boston capture its first Stanley Cup in 38 years.
Now, Rask is killing it after only a few weeks in what used to be Tim Thomas’s starting spot as Bruins goalie. Let’s examine Rask’s play so far.
Rask Led the Bruins to a Shutout Against Toronto
On Feb. 2, the Bruins registered an impressive 1-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though Boston was the visiting team in Toronto, Rask kept his focus and blocked all shots to grab the 12th shutout of his NHL career.
During the game, Rask was impenetrable in goal, blocking all 21 shots that the Maple Leafs put on net. Even though the Bruins only scored one goal, Rask’s stellar performance meant that one goal was quite enough for a victory in Toronto.
Rask Contributed to a Great Win over Montreal
Only a few days later on Feb. 6, the Bruins won 2-1 over the Montreal Canadiens as the visiting team in Canada. Rask played excellent, blocking 20 shots and registering a save percentage of .952.
Rask was so well that the Bruins traded the temporarily retired Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders less than 24 hours later.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty after the game, “That game [against the Habs] for Tuukka was a divisional game, an improving team that we’re going to see a lot and he held the fort in the first period.” He continued, “That gave me a good feeling, but we always had this succession plan [to install Rask] and we were going to carry through with it.”
However, Rask Flopped Against Buffalo
Though February has been a good month for Rask, he encountered some trouble at home against Buffalo on Thursday, Jan. 31 at TD Garden. Boston lost 7-4, and Rask only saved 25 of Buffalo’s 31 shots.
He averaged a save percentage of .806 for that game, which is extremely low in comparison to his games against Toronto and Montreal and his 2012-13 season statistics. Hopefully for the Bruins, Rask will continue his consistent February play.
Rask Has His GM's Approval
After Rask’s impressive play against Montreal on Feb. 6, CSNNE reported that Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli plans to begin talking to the goaltender about a contract extension.
Chiarelli told CSSNE’s Joe Haggerty, "I know the perception looks like one follows the other and I was waiting to pull the trigger based on a great game by Tuukka. We’ve been pretty open with Tuukka and Tim as far as when we would see them ending up, I call it a succession plan.”
According to CSSNE, Rask’s contract will be somewhere between $19.5 million for five years and $39.5 million for six years. Last June, Rask signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Obviously, Chiarelli and the Bruins now see Rask as incredibly valuable.
Rask Has Impressive 2012-13 Statistics
Despite his difficult game against Buffalo, Rask’s statistics for the season are very good, pushing him to the top of most statistical categories in the NHL. He has a 6-1-1 record, a goals against average of 1.97 and a save percentage of .922.
The 25-year-old from Finland bided his time in Boston during Tim Thomas’s reign, supporting his teammates and working towards improvement. He is certainly making up for the series loss against Philadelphia in 2010, and should he continue his high level of play, he will remain the star goalie for the Bruins for multiple seasons.