Boston Bruins: Grading and analyzing the 2019-20 season of Tuukka Rask

Boston Bruins, Tuukka Rask #40 (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, Tuukka Rask #40 (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Grading and analyzing the 2019-20 season of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

It was another ho-hum regular-season for Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. He was at the top of most categories and he helped the Bruins capture the Presidents’ Trophy as the only team in the NHL with 100 points in the shortened regular season.

The playoffs? Well, that was a different story and will be addressed further down.

Rask went 26-8-6 in the regular season with five shutouts. His best performance was his final one on March 10 before the season was paused two days later because of the coronavirus pandemic. He stopped all 36 shots by the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-0 Bruins on March 10 victory that snapped Philly’s nine-game winning streak and gave the Bruins 100 points.

That performance summed up the regular season the 13-year veteran had. He led the league in goals-against average (GAA) with a 2.12, ahead of Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues who had a 2.15. He led the league in goals saved above average with 23 and was No. 2 in goals allowed with 79, one more than Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars.

He was also behind Khudobin in save percentage (SV%) with a .929 and finished tied for second in shutouts with five, one behind Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Speaking of Hellebuyck, he ended up edging out Rask to win the Vezina Trophy, denying Rask his second Vezina in six years.

Rask played the least amount of games by the top goalies in the league at 41. Two factors for that was the play of backup Jaroslav Halak to give him nights off during the season and he also suffered a concussion in January in Columbus against the Bue Jackets that cost him three weeks and a second all-star appearance.

When he came back, he won nine of his next 13 starts prior to the season pause and it allowed the Bruins to gain separation in the standings from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The playoffs were a different story.

When the Bruins returned to Warrior Ice Arena in July to begin a mini-training camp for the Toronto playoff bubble, Rask was never able to return to the form he left off with in March.

The playoffs overall have not been kind to Rask. In the 2013 playoffs, he led the Bruins to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on a late rally. In 2019, Rask and the Bruins lost Game 7 of the Cup Final on home ice to the St. Louis Blues. If there is one thing missing from Rask’s resume, it’s winning the Stanley Cup.

In Toronto, Rask struggled in four games going 1-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .904 SV%. Before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Carolina Hurricanes, it was announced that Rask was leaving the Bruins to attend to a family matter back home. This space is not going to second guess and blame Rask for leaving the playoffs to attend to a family matter. It was the right thing to do.

Rask enters the 2020-21 regular season on the final year of his current eight-year, $56 million contract. Before the league paused, Rask hinted at the possibility of retirement following this season. Despite this being the final year of his contract and talking about retirement, he is still one of the top netminders in the league as he was recently ranked as the No. 2 goalie by the NHL Network.

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Rask will be graded on the 2019-20 regular season and his time in the Toronto playoff bubble, but leaving Toronto will not factor in because of it being a family emergency.

Grade: A