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2018-2019 Player Ratings: You’ve already made up your mind about Tuukka Rask

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Ah yes, the most contentious player review is here.

NHL: JUN 12 Stanley Cup Final - Blues at Bruins Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Player Rating: 8.8

Let’s be honest: there’s no point to you reading this. You know it. I know it. But hey, we started this series, so we’re going to review everyone.

The reason? You’ve already made up your mind about Tuukka Rask. Either you like him or you don’t. You think he’s good or you think he’s bad. There’s not much in between.

Rask is the most polarizing Bruin in recent memory. The takes have gotten so absurd around Rask (on both sides) that there’s really no point in trying to have a rational discussion. Colin wrote a great piece during the regular season on why Rask wasn’t doing so great, and it was maligned. I wrote a piece at some point on how Rask was good, and it was maligned.

If you like Rask, he’s the reason the Bruins made it to the Final. If you don’t like Rask, he’s the reason they didn’t win the Cup.

On and on it goes...

Now that we have that out of the way...let us begin.

Tuukka Rask’s 2018-2019 campaign can be best described in one word: uneven.

During the regular season, Rask ranged from mystifyingly bad to great; during the playoffs, he was outstanding. It’s fair to say that with our rating up above, there’s a heavy degree of recency bias: Rask was so good so recently that it’s easy to forget he wasn’t very good for long stretches of the regular season.

However, he was good enough to get the Bruins to the playoffs with the help of Jaroslav Halak, and once they got there, he certainly earned his paycheck. To me, if you’re playing well in the big games, that’s what matters.

That’s where I stand on the matter: I agree that Rask wasn’t great during the regular season, but I think he was elite during the playoffs. To me, that earns a top-end rating.

Rask’s season started with him getting pulled in a true beating in Washington; it ended with him once again the losing goalie on home ice in a Cup-deciding game. In between, it was truly a wild ride.

Your feelings on Rask will likely be reflected in how you view Game 7: if you don’t like Rask, he didn’t Make The Big Save™, while Jordan Binnington did. If you like Rask, he got beaten on top-notch chances.

However, the facts of the playoffs can’t be debated. Per Corsica, here are Rask’s numbers when compared to the other goalies in the playoffs (min. 200 minutes, all situations):

  • GSAA: 1st
  • HD Sv%: 1st
  • MD Sv%: 5th
  • LD Sv%: 9th
  • dSv%: 2nd
  • xSv%: 5th

Those numbers, as the people say, are Not Bad. The most impressive one is the Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) figure. That 14.16 mark is nearly 6 goals ahead of the goalie in second place. 6 goals!

Still, Rask won’t win over the entirety of the Bruins’ fanbase until he wins a Cup as a starter. Too many Bruins fans point to Tim Thomas’ luck-filled run as the standard Rask should match, which isn’t really fair...but it’s reality.

How Rask does next season will likely go a long way toward defining his legacy as a Bruin. It’s worth noting that after Rask’s excellent 2013 playoff run, he went on to win the Vezina Trophy in the next season. Will we see something similar next year?

It’s also worth noting that one of the bigger knocks against Rask (his contract) isn’t looking so bad anymore. Next season, Rask will be tied for the 4th-highest cap hit among goalies. His cap hit is about as close to that of Martin Jones (LOL) as it is to the 3rd-highest goalie.

He’s in the same neighborhood as guys like Marc-Andre Fleury, Corey Crawford, Cory Schneider, and Jonathan Quick. He’s much better than all of them.

If he and Halak can work as well together this year as they did last year, the Bruins are going to be in good shape. If we get Columbus Series Rask more than we get October Rask, the Bruins are going to be in good shape.

Let’s make a deal with each other: if you like Rask, you’ll agree to be a little more open to hearing the other viewpoint. If you don’t like Rask, you’ll agree to be a little more open to hearing the other viewpoint.

Deal?

Yeah, right. We’ll never all get along...unless Rask wins a Cup.

Actually, never mind. In that case, the knock will be that he took too many games to win it.

Hey, if nothing else, we’ll always have something to talk about!

A note about the stats above: Corsica and Hockey Reference had different numbers, which isn’t surprising. One thing worth considering about Corsica is that it listed Rask as only playing 17 games in the playoffs...I’m not sure if the rest of the numbers are wrong as a result, or if it’s just an error in the GP column.