Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Should Be A Finalist For Vezina
Tuukka Rask has done something incredible this season. He has made almost every Boston Bruins fan forget about his predecessor Tim Thomas, and the remarkable run he put together over the last five seasons. To follow a man who many deemed to be a Boston Sports legend before his ill fated decision to take a year off, and produce at the level Rask has, is nothing short of impressive.
Tuukka has been a top 3 goaltender in the NHL this season. He is currently 3rd in save percentage, 4th in goals against average, and tied for 4th with many other NHL goaltenders with 4 shutouts.
Unfortunately, well unfortunately for his chances I mean, the Bruins play some pretty excellent defense as a team. Claude Julien’s defense first approach to hockey certainly benefited Tim Thomas in his time here, and is certainly doing the same for Rask. It is this reputation that will probably result in another goaltender winning the award. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky has been outstanding this season, as has Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, and San Jose’s Antti Niemi. For me though, the Vezina begins and ends with Tuukka Rask.
I believe Rask deserves the award because he, at times, has been the Bruins best player on the ice. This is not necessarily a surprise as the B’s have always been heavily reliant on goaltending in the past. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs you need goaltending to even have a hope of sipping from Lord Stanley, never mind winning it. Tuukka’s numbers this season are nothing short of elite, he has a line of 18-9-4, with a .929 save percentage, a 1.96 goals against average, and a 4 shutouts.
A Vezina would certainly bode well for his impending free agency with the Bruins. Don’t worry, Rask is a restricted free agent, and will remain in black and gold for the foreseeable future. He will be getting a new contract at season’s end, and it will likely be of the big money, high dollars variety. The Bruins would do well to keep him around as he has proven he can carry the load in a big way this season.
Before he gets that big money deal from the B’s he will have to prove he can play on the NHL’s biggest stage. The Stanley Cup playoffs are right around the corner and the Bruins are going to need Rask if they hope to have a chance at returning to the finals. He played pretty well in 2010 against the Buffalo Sabres in a series that saw the Bruins eliminate the then North East Division champs. However, he did fall apart against the Philadelphia Flyers due to fatigue in the infamous collapse of that season.
As fans, we only really have mixed bag of expectations for him in the postseason. I expect Tuukka to play just as well as he does in the regular season, maybe a little better. Does that mean it is necessarily going to be that way though? It is tough to say. When all is said and done, Rask deserves a Vezina nomination and has a legitimate chance to win it. He has been a top 3 goaltender in the NHL this season, and I believe he has crossed over into the realm of “elite” status.
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