Bruins vs. Blackhawks: Rask Gives Boston Advantage in Stanley Cup Finals

Daniel WilliamsContributor IIIJune 11, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21:  Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins skates to the net during a break against the New York Rangers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 21, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The silver chalice stands idly by, awaiting its travel schedule to either Boston or Chicago. For Boston, the man between the pipes has every intention of returning it to Beantown.

Tuukka Rask posted some memorable numbers in Boston’s sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he’ll be the key for the Bruins against the high-flying Hawks.

As the backup to Tim Thomas during Boston’s Stanley Cup victory in 2011, Rask had a front-row seat to the sort of play and pressure that comes from the Stanley Cup Final. He flourished in this year's Eastern Conference Final against top-seeded Pittsburgh.

Rask posted a remarkable 0.43 goals-against average, a .985 save percentage and two shutouts in four games against the Penguins—who scored more goals than anyone during the regular season (165).

For the playoffs, Rask has a record of 12-4 with a 1.75 GAA, .943 save percentage and two shutouts. Three of those losses came to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Since then, Boston has won eight of nine and Rask’s play has been the catalyst.

The 26-year-old Finland native is enjoying tremendous postseason success in his first year as the Bruins’ starter. Although he’s been impressive, a daunting task still lies ahead with the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago amassed the highest goal differential in the regular season at plus-53. Coming off of a five-game series win over the defending cup champion Kings, Chicago is feeling pretty good. With Patrick Kane’s Game 5 hat trick, the Hawks feel confident their stars will play to form at the right time.

Rask, however, is garnering attention from other sources as well. voters agree that he stands as the early Conn Smythe Trophy front-runner for playoff MVP.

This Stanley Cup Final also marks the first meeting of two Original Six teams in the Final since 1979, when the Montreal Canadiens secured their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the New York Rangers in five games.

Boston represents the last Eastern Conference team to hoist the Stanley Cup after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011. Chicago last won in 2010.