The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who is considered by the general managers of the NHL to be the best in the business. Today, the three finalists were announced. To the surprise of a lot of the fans and certainly his fellow Bruins, Tuukka Rask was not amongst the nominees.
Tuukka was beat out by Sergei Bobrovsky of the Coumbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks‘ Antti Niemi and five time nominee New York Rangers crease policeman Henrik Lundqvist. As a member of Bruins Nation, I’m just as incensed as his teammates. At the beginning of the season there was a lot of concern if we in Boston could safely set our watches to ‘Tuukka Time’. Over the length of the season though, our ‘Flying Finn’ has done his best to rest all the watches of the Nation.
Tuukka went 19-10-5 for the season, and those nineteen wins may have been the biggest reason for him not to be included this year. (He was eleventh in the league.) The rest of his stats though confirmed that he should have at least been considered. His save percentage (.929) was in the top three, his goals against average (2.00) was fifth, and his five shutout wins was the best in the NHL.
His teammates have been registering their disappointment for their lead goaltender all across the local media. “He’s been great,” said Andrew Ference. “If you look at his play alone, he’s done a great job, but if you look at the situation he’s come into, especially following Timmy’s footsteps, there was a lot of pressure on him to jump in and be that No. 1 guy that everyone knows that he’s been waiting to be. So, he came into a situation like that, and to play the way that he has, it has a couple of extra bonus points.”
“It’s the view of the GM’s, but we know how much he means in this locker room, and we know how many times he’s kept us in games.” said Dennis Seidenberg
“We just talked about it this morning and I was surprised,” offered fellow netminder Anton Khudobin. “He played real consistently every game and he gave us a good chance to get to the playoffs and to get the point we needed to. He kept us there and stole some games for us.”
“I can’t believe he’s not nominated,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. It’s the same as three years ago, when he started with us. If I’m not mistaken, he had the best save percentage, the best goals against in the league and he wasn’t even a question mark for the Calder or the Vezina.”
“From the first game this year, Tuukka has been the guy to go. He’s won some games for us in the season,” commented game four hero David Krejci “He’s been great for us in the playoffs. He had 47 shots against the last game and he kept us in the game last game and the first two games as well. It’s great to have somebody back there that you can rely on. He’s been so good for us the whole year. I just hope that he’s going to keep playing the way he is.”
Even Claude Julien was a little taken aback by Rask being overlooked this year. In the end, the head coach summed up why Tuukka is such an important piece of the Bruins dynamic. “I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “I’m just glad we have him on our team. I know that the type of person he is, he doesn’t need the recognition. He’s going to continue to play no matter what, but it’s unfortunate because both years he’s been our starter he’s been unbelievable.”