(Above Photo Credit: NHL.com)
By Court Lalonde @courtlalonde
I did a mini-social experiment the other day in a Facebook group I frequent. I asked them if they hated Tuukka Rask, could they please tell me why. I did ask them to give me reasons why and not just say he can’t win big games and what would be a solution in net. I did receive a lot of responses, along with he can’t win big games, but not one provided a solution.
June 24, 2006, the Boston Bruins traded Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 21st overall 2005 draft pick Tuukka Rask. Being a first round pick and a goalie, it was surprising at the time that the Leafs traded him. It is still talked about in the Toronto media as one of the worst trades in franchise history. The Bruins had soon to be Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Tim Thomas as their starter when Rask finally made his way over to North America to play. Thomas made it hard for Rask to crack the lineup with his outstanding play between the pipes for the Bruins.
In the 09-10 NHL season, Rask broke into the league and played 45 games with a 22-12 record and 1.97 goals against average. He wasn’t even nominated for the Calder trophy that year, even though he was the only goalie in the league that had goals against average below 2.00. 2011 he would win the Stanley Cup as the back-up to goalie Tim Thomas, but would become the starter the next season after Thomas was traded after a bad contract negotiation.
During the second round of the 2013 Playoffs, Rask faced 136 shots in four games and only allowed two goals against one of the highest scoring teams in the National Hockey League, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins would go on to the Stanley Cup finals and lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. I think this is where it all started with some fans thinking that he wasn’t an elite goalie and the Bruins should trade him. Fuel was added to the fire when the Bruins signed Rask to an eight-year, 56 million dollar contract following the finals loss. I would like to say that I can never understand when fans get mad at a player for his contract. The player didn’t force the team to sign him to that deal, and the management is the only one to blame if you don’t like a contract. Not one of you reading this would say no to 56 million dollars or even say that it’s too much and that you have been over-valued. During the 2013-14 season, Tuukka would go on to win the Vezina Trophy himself with a 36-16-6 record and 2.04 GAA.
This season he has a record of 32-16-4 with 2.23 GAA and his first all-star game appearance. Fans continue to say that he can’t win big games or that he always lets in soft goals. He has beaten the hated Montreal Canadiens twice a year on the road and at home with a shutout in one of those games. If you look at the career numbers of Carey Price, Braden Holtby, and Henrik Lundquist, it is Rask that has the better career goals against average. These goalies are considered to be the elite goalies in the National Hockey League, and he has better GAA career wise than all of them and has better GAA then Carey Price this year.
Tuukka Rask recorded his 36th career shutout on Sunday night in a 4-0 win over Montreal.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 13, 2017
Goalies can steal a game for you and keep you in the game, he did that last night against the Philadelphia Flyers in a must-win game. Yes, he hasn’t been great every night this year, but neither has the team in front of him. The game of hockey is a team sport, and they win and lose as a team. Some fans seem to blame him when we lose and say he was lucky when we win. You can hate Tuukka if you like because that is your right as a fan but just think about where this team would be without him next time.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 11, 2017