Tuukka Rask is one of the most polarizing Bruins players in recent history.
There’s a very large segment of the Bruins fanbase that flat out dislikes Rask, blaming him for every loss and refusing to credit him for any win.
Why? It’s hard to say, really.
Rask has been an elite goalie for the Bruins for the better part of a decade. He won a Vezina trophy. He’s fourth in franchise history with 200 wins.
He’s not a malcontent. He doesn’t criticize the fans, or throw his teammates under the bus on a regular basis.
So what’s the deal?
Some fans have hilariously placed the blame for the 2013 Cup Final loss on Rask, and have never forgotten it.
Most just don’t like his contract, arguing that $7 million is too much to pay for a goalie (it isn’t).
Many have blamed the Bruins’ recent shortcomings solely on Rask, refusing to acknowledge that many other factors contributed to the failures.
Rask has become even more of a lightning rod this season, mainly due to his 2017 struggles.
His save percentage since January 1st has been below .900, which is bad. His GAA has been around 2.8 (note: this previously said 2.5, which was wrong due to bad data), which is also bad.
There’s no denying that Rask is in a bit of a funk, but the anti-Rask crowd rarely acknowledge that he’s also likely been playing at far less than 100%.
Rask had leg issues going into the season, was nearly ridden into the ground in the first three months of the year, then “popped his groin in February.” But it’s not “yeah, he may be hurt, so it makes sense that he’s not doing great.” It’s “see? he sucks!”
The Take-O-Meter went into overdrive over the past week, when everything was Rask’s fault. With baseball yet to really start, the Celtics cruising along and the Patriots in the offseason doldrums, the Rask takes should burn up the sports talk radio airwaves tomorrow.
However, the anti-Rask takes are, largely, bogus and bad.
I asked people on Twitter to help me collect the best ones, and will discuss and rate their level of trashitude here. One trash can is a kind of bad take, while five trash cans means your take should be Tweeted unironically under the heading “MY COLUMN.”
“He doesn’t care”
This is truly a terrible take. It’s completely baseless, and is a cop out in that the Taker knows that it can’t be disproven because it’s 100% opinion (and a bad one, at that).
The impetus for this is dubious, at best. Remember: prior to becoming a regular NHLer, Rask was most famous for throwing a milk crate on the ice in anger after a regular season loss. He often sets record-breaking times doing the angry sprint off the ice at the final horn.
So why does he not care?
It could be because he’s a very blunt speaker, and never really gets too high or too low. It could be because he’s European, and the “soft Europeans” stereotype is still perpetuated for some reason.
Or it could be because he doesn’t throw the frequent on-ice temper tantrums that Bruins fans came to expect from Tim Thomas. Those are equated with “caring,” instead of being equated with acting like a child.
“Rask doesn’t even try. He’s not a BATTLER®”
Ah yes, another trope from the Legion of Tim Thomas.
Thomas earned a reputation as a “battler,” a goalie who flopped around like a fish out of water and was frequently diving, sliding and stacking the pads. It’s not a knock on Thomas: it worked for him, and was part of the reason the Bruins ended their Stanley Cup drought.
People have started attaching that label to Anton Khudobin now as well, and it’s not a bad comparison. I think Khudobin did the two-pad stack more last night than Rask has all season.
Rask, meanwhile, is pretty calm between the pipes. Is it because he doesn’t care?
No, it’s because he’s a far more technically sound goalie than Thomas or Khudobin. Rask doesn’t dive and fly around as much because his positioning is better, not because he doesn’t care.
“He fakes injuries when he doesn’t want to play.”
A truly horrendous take. There’s absolutely no basis to it. This one was spouted frequently yesterday.
“HE PLAYED THURSDAY BUT CAN’T PLAY TODAY?? MAEEKSS U THINK!!!!!”
He also hobbled off the ice in that game due to what was presumed to be a skate issue, but who knows? Maybe there was an injury there, or maybe he got something the next day.
The idea that Rask, a professional athlete, would make up an injury to avoid facing the New York Islanders is absurd, and is probably perpetuated by the kind of Bruins fan who espouses the virtues of toughness but skips work because of a hangnail.
“He skipped the Ottawa game because he had a stomachache.”
Minimizing an injury or malady is a great way to mock it. Rask missed that Ottawa game last year due to illness, so again, the Very Tough Bruins Fan™ decides that he skipped the game due to an upset tummy LIKE A BIG BABY.
Never mind that if Rask had some kind of stomach flu, he’d be at risk of literally puking on the ice, and would probably be severely dehydrated.
Then there’s the always-garbage “HE WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO EAT WINGS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE GAME” trope that was disproven but remains a favorite of the conspiracy theory crowd.
“Rask chokes in big games.”
Ah, yes. Here it is. The grandaddy of all Tuukka Rask takes.
“He can’t win the big games! He always chokes!”
This one is powered by the 2013 SCF loss to Chicago, though one could argue the roots are back in 2010, when a complete and utter team-wide failure led the Bruins to one of the worst postseason collapses in NHL history.
For whatever reason, Bruins fans seem to place the blame for the “17 seconds” game solely on Rask’s shoulders.
Never mind that the first goal was a tap-in that no goalie could have stopped, and the second came on a deflected shot and a soft net-front effort by Johnny Boychuk.
It was all Rask’s fault, and it all continues to be Rask’s fault.
Never mind that Rask allowed two goals IN THE ENTIRE SERIES against the Penguins, and that he has career playoff numbers of a .930 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA.
Never mind that in Rask’s final five starts in last year’s “collapse” the Bruins scored a total of six goals.
It’s all Rask’s fault. Should’ve shut them out every time!
“You think nothing is Rask’s fault.”
A great strawman argument for anyone defending Rask. Yes, that’s what everyone is saying: Rask is great and nothing is his fault.
This is, of course, ludicrous. Rask hasn’t been playing top-level hockey lately. Everyone can admit that.
The defense of Rask really boils down to people thinking that the goalie is shouldering an unfair amount of blame for any struggles.
To condense it for anyone offering this argument: Rask hasn’t been great lately. He could be better. Not every loss is Rask’s fault, and Anton Khudobin is not a better option.