It’s been several years since Tuukka Rask took over for Tim Thomas as the Bruins’ full-time starter, and he had his share of growing pains in his first few seasons on the job. Now in his seventh year as the team’s true starter, his style and passion are evident, as well as his flaws. For a system-based goalie, Tuukka enjoyed a bit more support from the skaters in front of him during the regular season, with the immediate impact of Charlie McAvoy taking full-time minutes trickling down the defensive sets. Fully recognizing the awesome hot streak from Anton Khudobin, there should never have been doubt that coach Bruce Cassidy would return to Tuukka before long. Were it not for pre- and mid-playoff injuries to the entire middle of the defensive corps a la Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug, the team could have extended their run. NOT because Tuukka faltered.
SCoC Average Grade: B to B-
Go ahead and say whatever you want about Tuukka (in the comments, on Twitter; do your thing). He is not a soft goalie, and he does not often give up a soft goal. We’ve said it in this space before, and we’ll say it again: If David Pastrnak is the heart, Patrice Bergeron is the soul, and Brad Marchand is the Wet Willie, Tuukka Rask is the backbone of the Bruins. He generally stays calm, except, y’know, when he blows a gasket.
NOTHING BUT RESPECT FOR MY GOALIE TUUKKA RASK pic.twitter.com/fy8NHofjwg— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) March 30, 2018
Which, honestly, this author LOVES to see from his team’s goaltender. Sound positioning mixed with a competitive fire that flares up at times is a great mix for someone who has to challenge his critics every single night just to gain a grain of respect. With all this love for Tuukka, then, why the B+? With an improved defense, the justifiable expectation would be to have some more statistical regular-season success in terms of save percentage, and a lower GAA would be even better.
However, note this: on the top two defensive pairs, there was one second-year player (Carlo, 21) and one first-year player (McAvoy, 20). (Krug is fine, and you tell Chara he’s old, I dare you.) Where a more veteran defenseman might know already know how to better prevent quality scoring chances, these boys - BOYS, I TELL YOU - are still learning the pro game by FIRE. One of the levels of trust for the development of young players is to trust that a $7M goalie either a) can make some athletic saves where he shouldn’t, and b) be able to mentally recover from nights where his defense was sub-par. Rask has done both for years, and is just past 31 years old. He has years left. YEARS, I SAY.
Rant Over. Enjoy some highlights, and start getting pumped up for preseason!
Agree? Don’t agree? Give Tuukka a whole-letter grade. Sorry, I can only count to F.
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