Rask Shining in Beantown
Yes, everyone knew that Tuukka Rask was a good netminder who had success as a starter during the 2009-10 season and was an above average back-up the next two seasons. With that said, no one quite knew how he was going to play without Thomas pushing him.
Last season, Rask proved that he was a more than capable number one goaltender and that when given an opportunity to do so, could be an elite one. In leading his team to within one win of their second Stanley Cup in three years, Rask went 19-10-5 with a 2.00 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and five shutouts.
The 26-year-old Finnish masked man was even better in the postseason. Rask went 14-8 with a 1.88 goals against average, a .940 save percentage and three shutouts in coming two wins away from his first Cup.
When a goaltender plays that well in a season, expectations are raised and the general thought is that the particular netminder can do it every year. It appears that so far this season, Rask is showing that he is the real deal.
In 19 games this season, Rask is 12-5-2 with a 1.62 goals against average (third in the league), a .945 save percentage (first in the league), and 2 shutouts (second in the league). It is safe to say that Rask has been the team's best player so far.
Rask proved that in his team's 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Rask made 43 saves and made some big-time saves to not only preserve the one-goal lead, but to keep his team in the game as the team was badly outshot by the Blueshirts.
Rask's strong play between the pipes have the Bruins at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. His play also has them four points behind the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks.
With the way Rask is playing right now, it is also not hard to imagine him continuing his strong play and being a Vezina Trophy finalist at the end of the season. Rask at or near the top of the league when it comes to goaltending statistics and one could assume that he will continue to play a lot of games moving forward.
There may be a lot of hockey left to be played this season but with Rask on top of his game, the Bruins are in a good position as they start getting into the meat of the NHL season.