Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask found himself in hot water with the media and the fans again. The B’s number one goaltender was out for yet another important game for Boston.
Some people will never love Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Even if he brings home a Stanley Cup as the B’s number one goaltender, he’ll still be loathed by a percentage of the fan base.
It’s just a fact of life that many Boston fans have come to accept. There will be people who hate him for missing important games. Or his seven million dollar contract. Others dislike him for being a ‘soft European’ player. Some people even hate the way he doesn’t fling himself all over the ice like Tim Thomas did when he played for the Bruins.
In their defense, Tuukka Rask had some bad luck when it comes to playing in critical games for the Black and Gold. Last season, a stomach bug hit the Finnish netminder causing him to miss the last game of the season. The Ottawa Senators steamrolled over the B’s 6-1, knocking them out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
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When it comes to the contract, the Bruins do have a tendency to throw money at ‘replaceable’ people. In the past the Bruins did it for Chris Kelly. Now, defencemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller were the most recent winners in the Boston Bruins sweepstakes, earning four million dollar contracts for their work last season
People also seem to forget that if it wasn’t for Tuukka Rask‘s performance in the first half of the season, the Bruins would already have been knocked out of playoff contention.
Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy (possibly out of exasperation) chose today’s practice to tell the media and the fans that Rask is Boston’s number one goaltender.
“[Rask] had a good practice today. I spoke with him. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow and we’ll make our decision,” said Cassidy in an attempt to shut down the media over any potential goalie controversy.
“He’s our No. 1 goalie, so there’s no way we can skirt our way around that issue. He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision.
“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year…and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”
Fatigue has been a factor with Tuukka Rask this year. Why? The Bruins weren’t able to get a win without him for the entire first half of the season. It took Bruce Cassidy‘s promotion to get Khudobin to play NHL level hockey.
This is Tuukka’s fourth year as the number one netminder. In that time he’s averaged five shutouts a year. During his tenure as the number one goaltender he’s put up a .919 save percentage. While it’s not the Vezina winning .930 of his 2013-14 season, it’s still among the better NHL goaltenders.
Many of the fans of the Bruins in decades past would have killed to have a Tuukka Rask in net. The B’s have gone through stretches of bad goaltending, and Rask is nowhere near as rough as some of those players from the
Rask is also playing with a Bruins team that still hasn’t filled in all the holes on defense. Tuukka’s numbers looked better when he had Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in the lineup. As much as Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid have tried to fill those shoes, they haven’t. Colin Miller is progressing, but will still need another year (or two).
Finally, Tim Thomas would throw his body around all over the ice. The fans loved him for that. Rask doesn’t need to do it. He’s four inches taller, and that certainly helps cover space in the crease.
Rask is also a more technical goalie than Thomas was. He’s got better body positioning and can cover those areas without having to resort to wild flailing.
I’m a Tim Thomas fan. I hate saying those things about the guy that won the Cup in 2011. But in every major category, Tuukka Rask is a better goaltender than him. It’s time for the fans to stop hating Rask just because he’s not the goaltender you really want in net.