As of the current NHL stats, Tuukka Rask leads the league in goals against average(GAA) with 2.17 and is tied for second with Anton Khudobin with a .928 save percentage. With such stellar stats, I can’t help but wonder why Tuukka Rask gets such flack? Not only from hockey fans, but from Boston fans themselves. The Boston Bruins not only sit atop the Eastern conference, leading with 90 points, they also sit atop the entire league currently with a 5 point cushion. With the team doing so well, and Rask’s stats as they are, he should be the talk of the league regarding the Vezina Trophy. However, he has many people, fans, analysts, and reporters who speak poorly of his playing ability. Could this have to do with the Bruins losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final? I think yes. However, blaming the loss solely on Rask is a terrible mistake.
Tuukka Rask won the Vezina back in the 2013-2014 season. According to the NHL website the Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the goaltender who is adjudged to be the best at the position. Unlike the Hart Trophy, NHL general managers are the sole voters for the Vezina. The season Tuukka Rask won he played in 58 games; winning 36, losing 15, and going into overtime with 6. He recorded 7 shutouts that season, had a goals against average (GAA) of 2.04, and a save percentage (SV%) of .930. Comparing that to his current stats for the season he is right on par. The past three years winners; Andre Vasilevskiy (2018-19), Pekka Rinne (2017-18), and Sergei Bobrovsky (2016-17) all too have stats from their trophy winning season in line with Rask’s current stats. Vasilevskiy had a SV% of .925 and a GAA of 2.40, Rinne had a SV% of .927 and GAA of 2.31, and Bobrovsky had a SV% of .931 and a GAA of 2.06. Solely based on those regular seasons statistics it seems like a no brainer that Tuukka Rask should be the front runner.
I get it though, we’ve all seen it, the Vezina is undoubtedly the most unpredictable award in the NHL. It truly is hard to anticipate which goaltender will secure the glory at the end of the year. It has been shown in the past that goalie performance is not the sole deciding factor. More often than not, the team has a very competent defense and make a good playoff run (noting when Bobrovsky won in 2012-13 the Blue Jackets didn’t make the playoffs, there was the lockout though, so be considerate). Taking all of that into account though the Bruins are that team. Competent defense, leading the entire league in points, and hopefully will make a good playoff run again this year.
Vezina talk aside, Tuukka Rask is still elite. Yes, sorry Rask haters, I said it! Tuukka Rask is in fact an elite goalie. Not sure how people don’t see this but apparently some have yet to be convinced of this fact (yes, it is a fact). I get it people (yes Bruin’s fans I’m mainly talking to you) – last year sucked. Well not play wise, but emotionally. We had it all. We felt we had THE team and we fell short by one game. Losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final HURTS, (yes it hurt that much that it needs to be in all caps). But it was not Tuukka Rask’s fault. I’m going to repeat that again for all you Tuukka hating, still sad and salty Bruins fans: losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was NOT Tuukka Rask’s fault. If you watched the game, the entire team played bad. They looked like they didn’t even show up. Rask’s stats during the 2018-19 playoffs were great. He played a career high 1,459 minutes, had a GAA of 2.02, and a SV% of .934. I mean, hey, if we’re comparing people Andre Vasilevskiy didn’t even make it out of the first round of the playoff’s last season and he won the Vezina (I know – I said Vezina talk aside, but I’m just stating facts here). Also, I know, I know- Vezina is regular season stats, but still! If it were that simple Rask should have it (almost) in the metaphorical bag. According to the NHL’s latest installment of the “Trophy Tracker: Vezina,” Tuukka Rask falls under Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes, Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, Frederik Andersen from the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a few others. As a Bruin’s fan I feel slightly insulted for Rask, but that’s probably my bias.
The stats speak for themselves. Tuukka Rask is the one of the best goaltenders (if not the best) in the league and is helping lead his team to another great season and hopefully another deep playoff run. Tuukka Rask is elite. I would also suggest watching his highlight reel if you still aren’t convinced, he’s made some unbelievable saves.