Grade: Objectively, Solid A-, but we know that’s not what we’re here for.
Looking at only the numbers, the results of games, and the way that the team looks at him, there’s very little reason to say that Tuukka Rask was in anyway a “bad” goaltender in the same way that goalies like Martin Jones or Devan Dubnyk were in 2019-20.
In the regular season, only a single player was even .001 % better than he was, and that was Anton Khudobin, who started nearly 20 less, and more importantly won 10 less games than Rask did. He and Halak won the Jennings as a tandem, and while by no means innovated the idea of platoon goaltending, at the very least made it a very viable option. The Boston Bruins with him in net have had three straight 100+ point seasons, and continued attention at the NHL awards because of him. That is miraculous given that he’s on the wrong side of 30 and in a league beginning to trend younger and younger in goal.
The system, the players, and the organization absolutely love the guy; to the point that they ponyed up for about, if we’re doing the math right, roughly $6000 worth of drum equipment (excluding sticks) that is a 1:1 recreation of Lars Ulrich’s kit they set up to honor 500th career game that had happened months earlier, surprised him with it (and if you know what the Garden’s backstage area looks like, start to wonder where they put it), then packed all that up and sent to his home, all for a fairly standard 4-2 win over Toronto.
But, as Dan pointed out last year, there is no point to rationality when it comes to Tuukka Rask, or even talking about the things he’s good or bad at. He’s been in Boston so long that there are children who don’t remember a world before him, and that’s allowed familiarity and it’s ugly sibling contempt to creep in. And since 2010, he’s been the single most polarizing figure in the city. He outclasses all sports fighting in this city, part of it being that he’s outlasted nearly every other especially stupid form of arguing Boston fans will get into out of a deep need for the good times to keep rolling. It usually traces back to any one of, or a mix of, the following four.
- The European Hockey Player stereotype playlist (He’s not fully committed, he’s not passionate, he’s foreign, he’s got no heart, you know the hits.)
- He’s not Tim Thomas
- He’s a choke artist
- He’s washed
And we argue. We kvetch. We wail. We go on. And on. And on. And on. And we do go on...and on....and on. Ever circling. Ever cycling. Ever recycling.
And the way he finished his season? Being open about his distaste for the bubble, and then leaving said bubble quite suddenly for a family emergency during a pandemic that was immediately proceeded by a prettystandardfirstroundwinallthingsconsidered and then immediately the Bruins getting badly exposed by the eventual Stanley Cup winners? Well we’ll just keep going through that same shit except even louder until the sun burns out or Rask retires. While I know where I stand, I accept that we’re gonna be here for however long Tuukka Rask wants to be in the league, and the Bruins will have need of him. Until then, Tuukka Rask will remain the most controversial success of the Boston Bruins. Their most hated and vital component. Their most successful pariah.
Just, whatever your opinion of him, I think you should enjoy Rask. Because nothing lasts forever.
Do you have an opinion on Tuukka Rask?
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I HAVE A STRONG OPINION ON TUUKKA RASK
I ALSO HAVE A STRONG OPINION ON TUUKKA RASK