Feb 8, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) prior to a game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

#40 - Tuukka Rask - A good start to the Finnish.

Tuukka Rask  was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs  in the first round 2005 NHL Entry Draft.  He was selected twenty-first overall, and was seen as the best European goalie prospect at that draft that year. However, fate had its role to play in Tuukka’s future. He was traded to our Boston Bruins for Calder Trophy winning goaltender Andrew Raycroft. Toronto had assumed their starting goalie, Justin Pogge would be the future of the team, and put Rask on the market. (Bruins’ management always seems to get out ahead on many of the big-deal trades.)

Rask spent the next two seasons playing in the Finnish SM-liiga for the Llves (-Lynx). In the league he put up a record of 30-25(with 18 ties), a 2.24 goals against, a .927 save percentage. On 5 May 2007, Rask signed a three-year contract with the Boston Bruins. He began practicing with the AHL affiliate, Providence Bruins. On 5 November 2007, Rask was called up for his first game with the Big Bruins(he lost).  Two weeks later, he recorded his first NHL win, a 4–2 victory on the road against the team that drafted him, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rask spent the 2008-2009 season assigned to Providence. He performed well with a  33-20-4 record. His 2.50 goals against, and his .915 save percentage made him one of the better goalies in the AHL that year. Rask was recalled to Boston. On January 31, 2009  played his first (and only) game with the Bruins in the 2008–09 season, and earned his first ever NHL shutout, a 1–0 home effort against the New York Rangers.

The 2009-2010 season found Tuukka promoted to the #2 goaltender in the Boston line-up. (Behind some guy named Tim Thomas.) Thomas was not having a banner year, and his injuries and status led to Boston moving Tuukka up to the starting goaltender. His NHL rookie season as the guardian of the crease were impressive. He put up forty-five games that year. His end record was 22-12-5. He had racked up five shutouts, and had impressive numbers. His 1.97 goals against was the lowest in the league, as well as his .931 save percentage.

Then we have the 2010-2011 season. Somewhere along the line the Boston Bruins worked their butts off to become our Stanley Cup Champions. Tim Thomas had an amazing, borderline magical year. Timmy’s amazing run turned the clocks back on Tuukka time. Rask played in twenty-nine games that season. He post an 11-14-2 record with two shutouts. His goal average was a disappointing 2.67 and it was paired with a .918 save percentage. With Thomas being on fire throughout the playoffs, Rask was never put on the ice by coach Claude Julien.

Last season, Tuukka stayed as the #2 behind Thomas. On the bright side, #40’s numbers got better. He post an 11-8-3 season with three shutouts. His goals against dropped to an impressive 2.05, and his save average soared to a .929 (numbers better than Thomas’). Again, Tuukka was left out of the crease during the first round of the playoffs. Sadly, the Bruins could not repeat the magic and fell to the Washington Capitals in seven games.

Then Tim got weird. He told everyone he was taking a year off to focus on ‘friends, family, and faith’.  It looked like Tuukka time was about to happen.  Tuukka’s contract had expired, and it had the Bruins management concerned. Could they afford to lose both goaltenders in a matter of weeks? No worries though. Cam Neely(another Bruin you might have heard of) made the call to keep Tuukka around, by signing him to a one-year, three and a half million dollar contract.

Well, now we can set our clocks back to Tuukka time. Let’s see how little daylight we see in the crease this year.

 

 

 

 

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