Tuukka Rask has earned his claim to the net.
In a pre-game Zoom call with reporters, head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that the veteran netminder would get the nod, despite battling back injuries. “He’s ready to go,” said Cassidy. “It’s that simple. He’s our starting goalie. He’s healthy and ready to go.”
Assuming Rask’s back can hold up, the Bruins’ all-time leader in playoff wins by a goaltender deserves to be between the pipes. Rask’s consistent, stable presence throughout the years is blinded by the Bruins’ fans immutable war of attrition over his play.
Jeremy Swayman, Rask’s compatriot, and his stellar play in the regular season deserve recognition, but it is imperative to go with the goaltender who got the Bruins to the dance, the one who ranks 17th in NHL history in playoff games played.
Rask’s underlying numbers are solid. He ranks fifth among playoff goaltenders with at least 250 minutes played in high danger save percentage (.847%) and high danger goals saved above average (1.01). The Bruins have allowed 23 goals in all situations with Rask between the pipes, while his expected goals against is 24.42, fourth against among qualified goaltenders). A high number of those pucks that found the back of the net have been the result of a redirection.
Cassidy calling Rask’s number is a testament to the longtime Bruins goaltender’s skill and longevity. Sure, there are risks in starting a banged-up goaltender. With that being said, it would be the incorrect decision to take away Rask’s ability to help his team compete for the Cup when it was his play that backstopped the team to this point.