Boston Bruins: It’s Time For Tuukka Rask


Tuukka Rask started six consecutive games leading up to the All Star break and aside from a mediocre performance against the offensively talented Tampa Bay Lightning; Rask was up to task over his most recent stretch. He was 4-1-1 and stopped 71 of 74 shots on back to back nights against the Stars and Avalanche.

Most people would point towards the fact that the Bruins scored only four goals over the last three games of this recent stretch and sit seemingly entrenched in the bottom third of the league in total offense. However, for Rask the criticism and scrutiny typically starts and ends with his name being mentioned.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Rask have to stand on his head this season to make up for an anemic offense and depleted or inexperienced defensive corps. Yet, over and over again Rask is the one who bears the brunt of the grief when things go awry; but it comes with the territory when you are being paid as one of the top goaltenders; excellence is expected and anything less is deemed inadequate.

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Tuukka is in the midst of his worst season since taking over the reigns after the dismissal of Tim Thomas in 2012. There are reasons and factors abound for why Rask has struggled at times; but whether it’s the players in front committing critical errors or Rask letting in that one soft goal we all know he’s good for; the time for Tuukka to truly have to rise up and lead this team through adversity has come.

Last night against the Islanders was a perfect example of the good and bad when it comes to Rask’s play in net. After having two consecutive highlight reel saves in the second period; he misplayed a puck bounced in front of the net by John Tavares and let in a softie. The game was eventually tied; however Rask calmed down and allowed no further damage to be done as he stopped 43 of 45 shots and the Bruins offense stepped up for him in a 5-2 victory.

“The good thing is that even though the second period was kind of tough sometimes,” Rask said, “we battled back and we never let our guard down.”

Expect Claude Julien to lean heavily on Rask with the expectation of seeing the Vezina winning version of the still young Finnish goalie for the majority of the remainder of the season. There have been several fingers pointed in different directions; whether it be players, coaching, management, and the blame has certainly been shared.

One thing is for clear; the barometer for success in recent years for this team has been the synergy between it’s goaltender and the defense in front of him. Rask has dealt with critics in the good times; expect the line to grow exponentially larger if the Bruins have another early playoff exit or even worse, miss the playoffs entirely.