Every season, there seems to be discussion around Tuukka Rask and his time with the Boston Bruins – and it seems to always be the same type of discussion each season.
Fans and even media members seem to be split in their feelings on Rask. It’s typically either, “he sucks and he’s overpaid,” or, “he’s an elite goalie, just look at his numbers.”
Many can get agree that Rask is indeed overpaid. But to say he sucks may be a bit of a stretch – so could saying he’s elite. He’s an interesting case – his numbers are typically very good each season but he lets in soft goals, he leaves the net far more than he should and he doesn’t always show up (literally and figuratively) when the team needs him during meaningful games.
I say it every season that I personally like Rask. I don’t think he sucks, but I do think he’s overpaid. I’ve been extremely frustrated by his play this season – he hasn’t started off well and his backup Anton Khudobin has a much better record in 2017. Granted, Rask missed some time due to a concussion, but he still only has one win on the season.
Through his six games he has played this season, Rask is 1-3-2 with a 2.93 GAA and an .896 save percentage. These are most certainly not elite numbers. But through his career, he is 205-126-50 with a 2.25 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
In 2014, he won his first Vezina Trophy after going 36-15-6 with seven shutouts, which led the league, his save percentage was .930 and his GAA was 2.04. It’s not hard to realize he is a good goalie – he’s brought the team to a Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks and he played strong during the playoffs last year against the Ottawa Senators.
But his poor play to start the season and to watch it continue since he’s returned from injury (minus his game against the Los Angeles Kings where he played well), really got the wheels turning about him.
Last week, I tweeted out the possibility of the Bruins riding the “hot goalie” in Khudobin to open the door to trade Rask. Although it would be difficult to shed his contract, let’s just play the what-if game here.
Say the Bruins are shopping Rask and are indeed big on Khudobin – who, by the numbers, has been the better goalie than Rask this year with a 3-0-1 with a 2.52 GAA and .926 save percentage. Say Rask knows the team is shopping him – now that’s in his head with each and every game he’s on the ice, so his mind is not 100 percent in the game.
Sure, it’s a crazy thought that the team would trade their Vezina-winning goalie, but the Bruins are also in a rebuilding mode and now that they have a new coach in Bruce Cassidy, maybe it’s time for a goalie shake-up.
This team has a lot of young talent in David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, along with the talented Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. There’s a lot of promise with the Providence Bruins with young talent down there.
There’s a lot of talent everywhere on this team except that goalie position. That’s not to say Rask isn’t talented – he wouldn’t be playing in the NHL if he wasn’t. But at 30-years-old, he should be showing off his best play – he’s not old and he’s not a rookie.
Rask should have more than one win at this point in the season even with missing a few games with his concussion. He should be reliable, consistent and confident in net – and he isn’t any of those things.
Overall, Rask isn’t a bad goalie – but watching him in net so far this season, he is not the same goalie he has been. And it may be time for another shakeup for this team.
Last season, it was the firing of Claude Julien. This year, could it be the trade of Rask? If the team wants to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, the simple answer is yes. It’s time for a true number one goalie in net for Boston – and Rask just isn’t the guy to take on this role.
Written by: Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren)