There is a part of the Boston Bruins fan base and even some of the media contingent which simply cannot help but knock Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. Boston’s all-time wins leader has never been a fan favorite. Rask could do everything you asked of him and then some, but if the team lost it would somehow fall on his shoulders.
This spring, Rask is proving everyone wrong…again. Rask has been the Bruins most consistent playoff performer. He stole Game 7 of the opening round against the Toronto Maple Leafs and then outdueled Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in Round Two.
Rask is on top of his game.
Rask, 32, has a masterful .938 save percentage and 8-4-1 in these playoffs. He shut down potent offenses from Toronto and Columbus. His performance in Round Two cannot be overstated as the Columbus speed and tenacity occasionally overwhelmed the Bruins. Rask kept the Bruins alive in Game 3, was a wall in the third period of Game 4, and denied a desperate Columbus in Game 6.
He was their MVP of the series.
It is an easy argument that Rask is the front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of these playoffs. If the Bruins get by Carolina, Rask could enter the Stanley Cup Final as the odds on favorite to take home the award.
On paper, what is Boston’s biggest advantage over Carolina? It’s Rask over Petr Mrazek and/or Curtis McElhinney. Boston biggest advantage last round? Rask was better than Bobrovsky.
Rask is playing at a completely different level but he has always been good. While Rask may not be an elite goaltender, he has consistently been a top-10 goaltender since entering the NHL on a full-time basis in 2009-10. Rask was elite in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, too.
The Finnish goalie has been consistently good for the Boston Bruins. You might not like his contract which carries a $7 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons but his .921 career save percentage should be dismissed.
Beginning with this season and working backward, Rask has also posted 27, 37, 34, 31, 34, and 36 wins each season. His lowest save percentage was the .912 this season as he battled injury and early season inconsistency.
Fans and a few media types might love to scapegoat the Finnish netminder, but the Bruins are now the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. He’s the best goaltender left in the playoffs, and is giving his team a weapon that their opponent in the Conference Final simply does not have.
Hate him all you want, rag on him if you please, but Tuukka Rask has been a difference maker in these playoffs and is proving his worth to the Boston Bruins. Maybe winning a ring will finally quiet down his detractors in Boston. Sit back and enjoy Rask, he’s the best goaltender in Bruin history.