For whatever reason, both hockey and Boston Bruins’ fans alike continue to voice their displeasure when it comes to netminder Tuukka Rask.
They continue to point out how he does not come through in big games, they blame him whenever he’s between the pipes for a loss, and they don’t seem to really appreciate what he has done for their franchise. While some of it may be understandable, a lot of the criticisms placed on Rask are misguided.
For starters, Rask, 31, is having another excellent season for his club. Rask is 16-8-4 with a 2.30 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts.
Furthermore, according to NHL.com, Rask has the fourth best save percentage in the league since December 1 at .928 for goaltenders that have played at least 15 games. Since then, Rask has started 17 games, has gone 10-4-2, and has posted a 2.14 goals-against average.
Those are elite numbers folks. Yes, I realize that the team’s backup, Jaroslav Halak, has also played a good amount of games, but when in between the pipes, Rask, has been the better goaltender.
Rask is someone that has won a lot of games for this franchise. On Monday, February 4, Rask became the all-time winningest goaltender in franchise history when he notched his 253rd career victory.
For someone who is still just 31-years-of-age, that’s a lot of wins and because he is still somewhat young, he has plenty of time to increase that total. Since the 2009-10 season, he has posted win totals of 22, 11, 11, 19, 36, 34, 31, 37, 34, and as mentioned above, has 16 as of this writing.
One also needs to see that he has stopped just over 92 percent of the shots he has faced in his career. Yes, since being given the number one goaltender role several seasons ago, the Bruins have mostly been a solid defensive team, but when the defense falters, Rask is always there to bail them out.
I also think people forget that Rask won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2013-14. He was almost unbeatable that season as he went 36-15-6 with a 2.04 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage, and seven shutouts.
While Rask has never won a Cup, his playoff numbers are still well above average. He’s 35-30 with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage, and five shutouts.
I am well aware that he has had some rough outings in the postseason. I also know that he’s struggled in deciding games.
With that said, those things cannot solely be placed on Rask’s shoulders. This is a team game, after all, and the rest of the club should certainly share some of the blame for Rask’s shortcomings.
Whether you believe it or not, Tuukka is an elite netminder. His numbers, including this year’s statistics, show that and he has shown that throughout his entire career that he is one of the most consistent masked men in the league.
The Bruins are lucky to have him and hopefully come playoff time, Rask will be able to step up his game in a big way and give his team a chance to win hockey’s Holy Grail.
*Photo: NBC Sports Boston