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Tuukka Rask has played himself into the Vezina conversation

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It would have seemed nuts back at the beginning of November.

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings't Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s worth asking the question: should Tuukka Rask be in the Vezina conversation?

If I wrote this post in November, it probably would have been derided as trolling. However, like everything else surrounding this team, things look completely different as we sit here in February.

The Bruins’ #1 goalie is currently in the midst of an insane personal point streak, posting an 19-0-2 mark since late November. His play during this run has caused him to rocket up the NHL’s goalie standings leaderboard and, as a result, has turned him from a Vezina also-ran to a guy whose hat is firmly in the ring.

As of today (Friday, Feb. 9), here’s where Rask falls among his goalie brethren, with a minimum of 30 games played: 3rd in regulation losses (8), T-8th in wins (22), 3rd in save percentage (0.925), 4th in 5v5 save percentage (0.933) and 1st in GAA (2.09).

Since his streak began in late November, Rask has only allowed more than three goals once, in that weird Sunday night OTL against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His goals-allowed since then read like a mini golfer’s dream game: 3, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 2.

The stats above are the “main” goalie stats, and are the ones that voters probably weigh most when choosing the winner. Since Rask is in the top five league-wide in just about all of them, the answer to the question at the top of the post is pretty clear: yes, he should be in the conversation.

But will he win?

At this point, he’s a bit of a long shot. His current run isn’t likely to extend through March (obviously), and it stands to reason that his numbers will start to regress a bit.

He’s also up against some stiff competition. Andrei Vasilevskiy is having a great season on a team that will likely finish first or second in the league. Connor Hellebucyk is killing it for the Winnipeg Jets, and Carter Hutton is surging up the charts for the St. Louis Blues.

In fact, if you lower the games-played threshold to 25 games, Hutton leads the league in GAA and save percentage by a pretty healthy margin.

In all likelihood, a combination of regression and a slow start will likely keep Rask from winning another Vezina.

However, the fact that we can seriously have this conversation at this point is a testament to how well he has played since the end of November.

Hey, at least it’s a different Rask argument than “should Khudobin be the starter?????”