Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask returning to Vezina form

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 21: Tuukka Rask
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 21: Tuukka Rask /

The Boston Bruins’ goaltender struggled at the start of this season, but not anymore.  Rask’s recent play has launched the B’s into possible Stanley Cup contender status.

The Boston Bruins are a much better team when Tuukka Rask plays like the star goalie he is.  The Bruins defeated Ottawa Saturday night in convincing fashion, winning 5-0.  Rask stopped 25 shots en route to his 2nd shutout of the season.  It was a performance that Boston fans can now expect from their number one goaltender.

No question Tuukka struggled to start the season.  There was even debate over who should be the B’s top goaltenderAnton Khudobin was the better Boston goalie at the beginning of the year.  Rask won only one game out of his first six starts.  That paired with a .896 save percentage over that span had Boston worried about their goaltender’s ability.

Boston Bruins
BOSTON – FEBRUARY 11: Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (left) is congratulated at the end of the game by goalie Tuukka Rask, who sat out the game. The Vancouver Canucks played the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Boston, Feb. 11, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

But Tuukka has righted the ship.  In his last 11 starts, Rask is 10-0-1.  That dates back to November 29th against Tampa Bay.  Tuukka didn’t lose in regulation in December.  Both of Rask’s shutouts are during this hot streak.  Finally, Rask owns a .953 save percentage in those 11 starts.

This is the Rask the Bruins pay for.  We’ve seen Tuukka play like a dominant goalie before.  He won the Vezina trophy for the NHL’s best goaltender in 2014.  That’s why it was so frustrating to watch Rask at the beginning of the season.  We knew he was capable of the numbers that he’s posting now, but his play was worse than that of a backup.

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Faith in Tuukka should now be restored.  Rask has recovered from his early season woes and is playing like one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.  As of Sunday morning, Tuukka is 9th in the NHL in save percentage and 4th in goals against average.  If Rask can keep this kind of play up, watch for the B’s to make a run come playoff time.