Stanley Cup Preview: Tuukka Rask vs Corey Crawford


June 5, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a blocker save during the first period in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Whichever team wins the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, it will be their goaltender that sets them up for success and victory. It’s going to come down to whether or not Tuukka Rask can handle the explosive offensive of the Chicago Blackhawks. On the other side of the coin, the Blackhawks will be looking to Corey Crawford to give the Blackhawks the edge in the Finals.

Corey Crawford has done an excellent job so far this postseason for Chicago. He’s played in 17 games, and has put up a 12-5-1 record. He has had one shutout in the series with 474 saves. He has a .935 save percentage to this point, and he has done an excellent job containing the offense of the LA Kings in the last round. He also out-creased Jonathon Quick.(Quick was regarded as the best goaltender in the NHL going into the conference finals.) His current goals against average is 1.74

Tuukka Rask has received a lot of flak for coming after the Tim Thomas meltdown. Tuukka stepped in to the crease and stepped up his game. Most recently, he held the most powerful offensive team in the league(and the number one seed in the East), the Pittsburgh Pengins to two goals in four games. Rask has a 12-4-1 record, with two shutouts(both against Pittsburgh.). He’s racked up 527 saves for an astonishing .943 save percentage and a 1.75 goals against average.

Mathematically, they are practically identical. Which ever teams wins the Stanley Cup, if the net minders continue with these type of production, it’s a lock for one of them to win the Conn Smythe.

Tuukka Rask is going to be facing down another pair of speed demons in the Finals. While Tuukka did an outstanding job against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, he’s going to need to be extra careful. Patrick Kane is just as fast and as skilled as Crosby(not to mention being on a recent hot streak.).  Jonathan Toews has the same skill set as Malkin. As much as the Penguins had an amazing pool of talent, they were essentially a two pony show. The Blackhawks also have a healthy Marian Hossa who is tied for the lead with fourteen playoff points for the Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp and Brian Bickell are also aggressive players, and Tuukka will need the assistance of the Bruins to keep the scoring in check against Chicago.

Corey Crawford should have his hands full as well. Crawford will be facing down the league’s leader in points in the postseason, Bruins forward David Krejci. The quiet Krejci has twenty one points and just seems to make the time and space he needs to get the big plays done. The Krejci line has an obscene +/- of +48 going into the finals, and they have really woken up in the post season. Crawford will also need to contend with the best two way player on NHL ice at the present time. Patrice Bergeron has become the miracle worker this post-season for the Bruins, and there is no sign of him slowing down. Crawford may also have to deal with players like Milan Lucic who is not afraid to get up in a goalie’s face and make plays in front of the net.

(He’ll probably get chirped out by resident pest Brad Marchand a few times before the series is over.)

Chicago has the speed. Boston has the endurance. Both teams bring a great team effort, and they can unleash a fusillade of shots on net. With two teams so evenly matched, it’s going to come down to which member of the crease police can deliver the bigger presence in the net.