By: Yanni Latzanakis | Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz
The Bruins are gearing up for a big matchup against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. There will certainly be a buzz in the building as the Boston and Toronto rivalry writes another chapter but there will also most likely be much louder “TUUKK” chants coming from the Black ‘N Gold faithful as well.
That’s because Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for the Bruins and it will be his 500th game in the National Hockey League. On November 24, 2007, Rask got his first win against the Maple Leafs with a 30 save performance in a 4-2 win for the B’s. Twelve years later it all comes full circle as Rask will skate in the milestone game against the very same team that drafted him and that he got his first NHL victory against.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 22, 2019
Bruins head coach, who started coaching Rask in 2008, has rotated starts between Rask and Jaroslav Halak who have arguably been the league’s best goaltending tandem for the past two seasons. The lesser workload for Rask has allowed him to play better and more consistently all season long. Last season, Rask played in 46 games which allowed him to be fresher for the Bruins long playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Rask and Halak have picked up right where they left off last season and the Bruins hope the goaltending tandem can emulate their success from last season.
— NESN (@NESN) October 21, 2019
“They say it’s like 1,000 games for players, he said after practice on Monday when asked about his upcoming milestone game. “It’s a big milestone. I think you play 500 as a goalie, it’s going to take some years. Just goes to show how old I am, that’s about it.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara also weighed in on his longtime goaltender’s achievement: “I think it’s a great achievement. It just shows his durability and the way he takes care of himself and we are certainly happy for him. He deserves the accomplishment and whatever it comes with.”
Tuukka Rask was drafted 21st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, his opponent for his 500th career game, but has only played for the Boston Bruins. His rights were traded to the Bruins on June 24, 2006, for goaltender Andrew Raycroft and he then signed a three-year contract in May of 2007. He played most of his early career for the Bruins backing up Tim Thomas and won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011 but still has not yet won the Stanley Cup as a starter – failing to beat the Blackhawks in the 2013 Cup Finals and the Blues in the 2019 Cup Finals.
The Bruins goaltender has posted a 3-0-1 record this season in four starts posting a 1.72 goals-against average to go along with a .946 save percentage. The Bruins look to bounce back on Rask’s big night on home ice against the Leafs after falling to them on Saturday night in overtime 4-3.