According to NHL Network, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is the second-best goalie in the NHL behind only Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Of course, this has caused a stir not amongst fans of other teams but with the rather large contingent of Bruins fans that cannot wait until Rask is either traded away or his contract expires after the upcoming season.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 23, 2020
So why is it that such a noticeable portion of Bruins fans and some media (like my partner in crime with BHN, Joe Haggerty) have been trying to chase the winningest goalie in Boston Bruins franchise history out of town ever since he gave up two goals in the final two minutes of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final? Former NHL goalie and NHL Network analyst Darren Pang wonders if maybe Rask is just too boring because he’s always in the right position.
“Tuukka Rask does everything in a simplified manner,” Pang said of the Bruins netminder who also led his team to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final before losing to the St. Louis Blues. “I think when we look at all the saves these goaltenders are making, more often than not Tuukka Rask is in the middle of the net, in a really good position and if he makes a big save, he doesn’t throw a whole lot of mustard on the hotdog. I think that’s why there are maybe times that he gets criticized because it doesn’t look like he’s working really hard.”
Of course, it doesn’t help that Tuukka Rask’s calm demeanor is the antithesis of his predecessor Tim Thomas who backstopped the Bruins to their only Stanley Cup win in the last 48 years in 2011. Thomas had a much bigger flair for the dramatic but that’s because he was always out of position and had to fight harder to make what was often an acrobatic save reminiscent of hall of famer Dominik Hasek.
Rask is coming off one of the best regular seasons of his career as he went 26-8-6 with a 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage. That was good enough for Rask to be nominated for the 2020 Vezina Trophy that ironically was won by the goalie he finished one spot ahead of in this Top 10 list, Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebucyk. Per a recent tweet by NHL Public Relations, Rask also enters the 2020-21 season in a three-way tie for the best regular season save percentage at .922.
Unfortunately for Rask though, in Boston, a city that saw its four major pro sports teams win a total of 12 championships in the last 20 years, only a Stanley Cup win between the pipes for Rask will get the monkey off his back. The fact that Tuukka Rask had to leave his team in the Toronto bubble for a family emergency during their first round tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t help either. That and rumors of him out golfing the day after he returned home to Boston, sparked a firestorm of criticism and trade rumors swirling around the embattled goalie. Since then, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, head coach Bruce Cassidy and Rask himself have all publicly denied any discourse between Rask and the team.
So Bruins fans, do you think Tuukka Rask is currently the second-best goalie in the NHL? Why or why not?