Everyone says “there’s nothing like playoff hockey.” It certainly didn’t disappoint this year.
It was an exciting few months, with shocking losses, with one exciting breath stopping game after the next. In the end, the St. Louis Blues downed the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final 4-1 to take home their first ever Stanley Cup Championship.
One of the most important parts to winning a Stanley Cup Final is having the ‘hottest’ goalie at the time. The Bruins had that in Tuukka Rask, and that is why I was so confident that they were going to be taking home Lord Stanley’s Cup.
It did not work out that way, but Rask deserves no blame for their loss, and should be put on a pedestal for his performance this postseason.
After game seven many ‘fans’ began looking for people to blame after the Bruins laid an egg on the ice. The easy choice to go after was Rask, because he allowed four goals on only 20 shots.
That doesn’t sound great, but the stats don’t always tell the story the full story.
Rask was left out to dry all game, as Boston kept the pressure on offense but couldn’t finish, leaving themselves susceptible to the Blues on the break.
The Blues didn’t have many opportunities to put the puck on net, but when they did they found corners and had perfect deflections that gave Tuukka little to no chance of saving the shot.
Throughout this amazing playoff run Tuukka Rask had a save percentage of .934% and only allowed 2.02 goals per game. Those are outstanding numbers, especially over such a huge sample size of 24 games. His numbers almost mirror Tim Thomas from the 2010–11 playoff run that ended in a championship for the Bruins, and that some people still regard as one of the best goalie performances of all time.
During those playoffs Thomas had a save percentage of .940%, and only allowed 1.98 goals a game, not much of a difference there. Both are unbelievable given the circumstances, and for what was at stake.
The only difference is that Tim Thomas was able to lift the 40 pound trophy over his head at the end. Rask wasn’t.
He fell just one game short, but his performance will be forgotten due to that. It shouldn’t be.
People are so quick to forget Rask’s amazing performance in the 2012–13 playoffs, when he only allowed 1.88 goals a game and had a save percentage of .940%. No one remembers how well he played in that series, they just remember the two goals he gave up in 17 seconds to lose it all in game six against the Blackhawks. That’s how it goes. We have selective memories, and that’s not gonna change.
A lot of players are more guilty than Rask was for Boston’s inability to win the cup, but there’s no point in looking for a scapegoat now. All I know is that Rask doesn’t deserve to receive any negativity for his performance. He played his ass off night after night, and broke down the stereotypes that he was only a mediocre goalie who couldn’t show up in the big moments.
I felt bad for the big man from Finland after game seven, after it seemed he exercised all of his playoff demons and finally got an on the good side of Bruins fans. He looked utterly demoralized, as did everyone else. But you can’t win a championship when you can’t score or defend in the most important game.
I’m going to leave this with everyone who still thinks Tuukka Rask is a bum.
Rask’s all time regular season save percentage is .921% and he allows 2.28 goals per game, which is very good. While he steps it up and takes his play to another level in the playoffs with a save percentage of .927%, and only 2.19 goals per game. That’s outstanding.
That may sound like apples to oranges, but that’s the difference between an average goalie and a great goalie. Rask is a great goalie, and should be treated as one.
Without him, Boston would not of made it that far, and possibly would’ve been bounced in the first round against Toronto. Tuukka deserves his respect, and Bruins fans should want him around for a long time because he’s one of the best in the business. He has proved it once again.
Hats off to Tuukka Rask.
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