Is This The Year Tuukka Rask Breaks Free From Tim Thomas’ Shadow?

( Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

Ever since Tim Thomas’ miraculous playoff run back in 2011 that ended in the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, the questions started being asked. How much longer does Thomas last? How much longer will he be effective? How much longer will he be with the Bruins? That answer finally came to light not long after the Bruins fell to the Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round of the 2011-2012 NHL Playoffs. Thomas announced that he would sit out the 2012-2013 NHL Season. Opening the door for the Bruins to thrust Tuukka Rask back into the starting role for the first time since the 2009-2010 NHL Season.

Tuukka would have to wait a little longer to step back into the crease as the Bruins Starting goaltender. The reason being was because of a lockout at the start of the 2012-2013 NHL Season that began on September 15th, 2012. Finally, a new CBA was agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA on January 6th, 2013. The season was shortened down to just 48 games for the regular season. That year we saw Tuukka play 36 games posting a 19-10-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a Sv% of .929.

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Going into the playoffs that year, the Bruins were facing a young up and coming Toronto Maple Leafs team in the First-Round. The series was a back and forth battle most of the way. That was until the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 lead in game seven at TD Garden and seemed to have the series all but wrapped up. And then I think we all remember what happened next……

The Bruins went on to eliminate the New York Rangers in five games in the Second-Round and Swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were on their way to a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years. Unfortunately, the Bruins would lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in an infamous 17 seconds that Bruins fans will never forget.

Fast forward to the 2013-2014 season the Bruins would go on to win the President’s Trophy and Tuukka posted a 36-15-6 record in the regular season with a 2.04 GAA and a .930 Sv%. Tuukka was remarkable in his first full season as a starter for the Bruins since 2010. He led the Bruins to a series win over the Detroit Red Wings in five games. Then in the second round, the Bruins faced the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins would fall short against the Canadiens losing the series in seven games.

The next year in the 2014-2015 season Tuukka and the Bruins would not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. They would miss the playoffs again for the second straight year in the 2015-2016 season. The Bruins would make their way back to the playoffs in the 2016-2017 season and meet with the Ottawa Senators in the first-round but fall short once again, losing the series in six games.

Tuukka would bring the Bruins back to the second round of the 2017-2018 playoffs. Once again, beating the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round and then losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in five games. And we all know what happened last year. The Bruins beat the Leafs in seven games for the second straight season, then beat the Blue Jackets in six games in the second round, and swept the Hurricanes in the Conference Finals. Still sour on the minds of all Bruins fans, they would go on to lose to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final in seven games.

Now being a Vezina Trophy winner, a two-time All-Star, and a Stanley Cup Champion as a backup in 2011, Tuukka has got to be thinking “what do I have to do to get over the hump?” Well, this might be the year he does it. With this unprecedented long break due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Tuukka has had plenty of time to rest up and get back to 100%. It’s no secret that Tuukka plays much better when he has had his rest, and I, for one, will be putting all my eggs into Tuukka’s basket once the playoffs start. I think he will have what it takes to get the Bruins their first Stanley Cup Championship since 2011 when the playoffs start up again for the 2020 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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