Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask earned his league-leading seventh shutout last night against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. This should come as no surprise to anyone in the hockey community, as Rask has been phenomenal this year. While there have been other goalies that have had a season as dominant as Rask’s, Tuukka is the clear favorite to win the Vezina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender.
In the last 10 years, the winner of the Vezina Trophy has had a save percentage of .917 or better. Tuukka holds a .931 save percentage this season; Only Tim Thomas in 2008-09 and 2010-11, and Sergei Bobrovsky last season have topped Rask’s current save percentage. His goals against average is also among the elite, with only three of the past 10 Vezina winners bettering his mark of 2.01.
Rask undoubtedly has the numbers to justify him being named the best ‘tender in the league, but also is considered as clutch anyone in the league. He seemingly comes up with every big save presented to him, and has kept the Bruins in contention in countless games season.
Anyone can put up numbers similar to Rask’s when they have one of the best defensive teams in hockey playing in front of them. Rask however is the reason why the Bruins’ offensive has been able to be productive as of late. When a team can play aggressively with confidence knowing that their goalie will be there to catch them when they stumble, it makes a hockey team a serious threat no matter who the opponent. That is exactly what Rask’s recent dependability has done: made the Bruins one of the best teams in the National Hockey League.
When a goalie can make a difference night in and night out, they are considered a Vezina contender, and with seven shutouts and a save percentage among the league’s best, Rask has without a doubt made the shortlist of Vezina candidates. Rask already has a bronze medal to his credit this year, don’t be surprised if he adds at least one more piece of hardware to his trophy case before season’s end.