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Tuukka Rask: the No. 1 Goalie in Boston?

Tuukka Rask has been stellar for the Bruins in his rookie year and may soon take over as the No.1 goalie in Boston, ahead of Tim Thomas and his 2009 Vezina Trophy. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

The handing of the torch between the two Bruins goalies may come a lot sooner than most people once thought. Tim Thomas has struggled thus far this season and his “backup” Tuukka Rask has showed that he can be the starting goalie in the NHL. Coming off a recent shutout of the Montreal Canadiens, Rask (in comparison to Thomas) actually has a winning record on the year. While the former 2009 Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goalie sits at a losing record of 13-15-7, the rookie Rask improved his record to 11-7-4 on the year with Sunday’s win.

Rask actually leads the NHL in goals against average (GAA) with 2.02 and is third in the league in save percentage at .929. Those stats are very impressive and they actually show how he’s playing this year rather than what his record is. A goalie’s record is more of an indication of how well the team is doing and only minimally reflects the player himself.

For the Bruins, Rask’s (and Thomas’) records this season will not look good no matter what because the team is still ranked dead last in goals scored per game and you can’t win games without scoring goals (unless you play for the New Jersey Devils and have Martin Brodeur between the pipes.)

I think that Head Coach Claude Julien hits it right on the head when he says that you need to start the goalie that is playing better at the time in order to win some games. That is why he has gone with Rask in the past three games and it has paid off.

“You look at the way he’s played and technically he’s been pretty sound,” Julien said in regards to Rask. “Even in the last two games he got us a point. The reason we didn’t get two points was because we didn’t do our job offensively. And he’s been good. Right now we’re at a stage where you’ve got to go with the goalie that’s playing the best. And right now he’s playing the best. We know what Tim (Thomas) can do and Tim will be there at some point, there’s no doubt. But right now I think Tuukka’s done a pretty good job.”

Bruins’ winger Blake Wheeler has also been impressed with Rask’s recent play, especially in his shutout win on Sunday.

“First and foremost, Tuukka was phenomenal. He really, truly did steal the game,” Wheeler said. “We were up 2-0 in the second period and our team struggled a bit getting pucks in, and we turned over a lot of pucks and he made a lot of game-saving saves for us. Right there, that was where the game was won, with Tuukka being on his A-game.”

Is Rask the No. 1 Goalie in Boston?

Coach Julien is absolutely right, Tuukka is playing better right now and when it comes to how the team is performing, it all starts with the goalie. When one goalie is struggling, the whole team struggles because they put so much pressure on themselves to score, and like the Bruins have done this season, they just can’t make a good shot on goal because they are trying too hard just to get the puck on net.

Trading Thomas?

I wouldn’t put it in stone that Rask is the No. 1 goalie in Boston right now, but if he keeps performing as well as he has then he might very well be. Sources have said that the Bruins have been shopping Thomas before the trade deadline and that’s not surprising because of how well Rask is playing. If Thomas is dealt then Rask would easily be the No. 1 goalie in Boston.

The idea that the Bruins are looking to trade Thomas is a good indication to how much they trust Rask for the rest of the season. While the B’s might not even make the playoffs, Coach Julien would have the opportunity to play Rask on a regular basis and give him more experience along with the other young players on the team, which would be very important for next year’s team.

I know that we shouldn’t give up on this season, but if Thomas is dealt, than does the team give up on this year and start preparing for next season? It would make perfect sense.

Thomas’ Signing Bad Luck?

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is regretting giving Thomas a four-year extension but he might not be happy with the years and money involved in the deal. Thomas is signed through the 2012-13 season and is set to make $20 million in those four years.

Even if the Bruins are looking to move him, it might be hard to find someone who wants a 35-year-old goalie who is going to make $14 million over the next three seasons after this year. Of course, Thomas was rewarded with this contract because of how well he was playing but it appears now that he might need a little rest.

Bye Raycroft, Hello Rask!

Way back in 2005 at the NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Tuukka Rask with the 21st selection overall and then traded him to the Bruins for veteran goalie Andrew Raycroft. Now, Raycroft played well when he was with the Bruins but he was by no means an elite goalie, and the same goes for his time in Toronto. He went 39-34-14 in Toronto. He played two seasons for the Leafs before he was bought out and then signed on with the Colorado Avalanche where he only played for one season.

Rask, on the other hand, is seven years younger and is a far more promising prospect than Raycroft ever was. As Raycroft has wandered around the NHL, Rask has made a very comfortable home here in Boston. Do I think the Maple Leafs regret trading him? Yes. If the trade was the other way around, I would easily regret trading him away. He has the chance to be a very special player in the league and is already showing that he is well on his way.  

Although Rask has been the better goalie as of late, Tuukka still knows that Thomas is a franchise player and a well-respected goalie around the league. I am sure Rask has learned a lot from Thomas and if he has learned anything it’s that you have to be consistent.

“Me and Timmy have the same mindset every game. No matter if you get 15 shots or 30 shots, you still want to be the same,” said Rask. “Timmy showed in San Jose — he really stole [that] game for us.”

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Discussion

7 comments for “Tuukka Rask: the No. 1 Goalie in Boston?”

  1. “Rask, on the other hand, is seven years younger and is a far more promising prospect than Raycroft ever was.”

    Why do so many amateur “sports experts” hate Thomas so much? I’ll never understand it. You guys never give him his due. It’s completely irrational. Thomas has proven to be able to win the big games and not give up goals at bad times. That’s huge. But he has a poor stretch of about two weeks–as all goaltender do-and you are ready to throw him under the bus? I’ll bet you are just looking at the stats rather than watching every game. The stats lie in this case. Thomas had to endure far more games where the team in front failed to show up to play. Rask lost too in these cases, he just didn’t have to face it as often.

    I’ll tell you this much: the Thomas doubters like you would be all over Timmy for letting in all these goals from past the faceoff dot. But instead you put on your Rask colored glasses. Yet I’ll bet you’d dump Rask in a minute for yet another “promising prospect.” You win cups with the players you have, not the prospects!

    The fact is that Rask may one day be as good as Timmy, but it would be crazy to bank on it. Without great goaltending this team has no chance of winning a cup. But you’d dump him anyway for an unproven prospect who has yet to play a full schedule and has made several shaky starts? That’s irrational.

    As for Raycroft not being as promising, this is true only in retrospect. Those of us who weren’t in diapers at the time know that Raycroft was considered just as promising as Rask. He even won rookie of the year in his first season. But he fell apart. It’s idiotic to compare him to Rask now because two good games doesn’t make it clear if Rask will fulfill his promise or not.

    Posted by SomeGuy | February 10, 2010, 4:25 pm
  2. I’d just like to say that as the author of this article, that I don’t write Tim Thomas off at all and if that is what you feel then I’m sorry. Thomas is a great goalie but I think that he’s a better goalie when people doubt him.

    Ever since he came into the league everyone envisioned him as a backup. He was the backup to Raycroft at one point and then to Hannu Toivonen when Raycroft was traded. Even when Manny Fernandez was brought in 2007 many people thought that Thomas would be the backup once again, but due to injuries to Fernandez Thomas took over the starting role and played extremely well.

    When you look at Thomas’ stats this season, or even go back and look at tapes of the games, he has been very inconsistent all season. I’m not saying that it was the past two weeks, it’s been all season. Thomas has had three seperate 4-game lossing streaks thus far this season.

    What made Thomas a good goalie the past couple of seasons was that he had a viable backup that gave him time off when he needed it. Fernandez was perfect for that. Even when Fernandez went down with an injury in 2007 the Bruins had a decent goalie in Alex Auld.

    Just by chance that Rask gets more starts than Thomas down the stretch, is that really a bad thing? Thomas has already started 35 games this season and should get some much needed rest. Rask is younger and “should” have more energy to play more often.

    Off the record, I like Thomas. He is a good strong goalie and if we were to make it to the playoffs than he is the person I would want to start in goal. It’s just that if he keeps playing inconsistent than maybe him and Rask would need to alternate games, which wouldn’t play well with either player I can assume.

    Thomas IS the No.1 goalie for the Bruins right now, but is it too early to say Rask might be in the future? Possibly, but I’m sure the Bruins organization hopes he is and as a Bruins fan I hope he is as well.

    Posted by Greg | February 10, 2010, 9:56 pm
  3. Look for Tuukka Rask to get his fifth consecutive start on Thursday.

    Rask is 2-0-2 in his last four starts, giving up only six goals in 137 shots as opposing teams have been peppering the Bruins netminder. Rask seems to have taken over the number one spot in Boston and Tim Thomas owners can only wait and hope he gets another chance in goal.
    Source: Boston Globe
    Related: Tim Thomas

    Posted by Anotherguy | February 11, 2010, 2:06 pm
  4. [...] the likes of Tim Thomas, Phil Kessel, and Dustin Brown. Thomas has not been doing well lately, as he has seemingly lost his starting job with the Bruins. How will he get along with Phil Kessel now that they’re teammates once again? And we all know [...]

    Posted by American Events To Watch In The Vancouver Olympics | Sports of Boston | February 12, 2010, 12:16 pm
  5. Rask ur the best dont 4get that kk kant wait till ya play tuesday!

    Posted by Phoenix | March 7, 2010, 6:44 pm
  6. People are a bit too enamored with Rask right now, I think. He’s honestly the most egotistical non-enforcer hockey player I’ve seen. If you listen to his post-game interviews on the radio all he does is talk about himself and I’ve even heard him make snide comments about his teammates and smug ones about Thomas. He’s JUST starting to acknowledge the other players and that’s probably because Julien’s been bagging on his puck handling some lately. Is he a technically good goalie? Oh yes, and I’m sure he’ll get better. But Thomas is the one who’s never put me to sleep.

    No seriously, I’ve fallen asleep during about half the games Rask has been in. Most boring, uncreative goalie I’ve seen. And it’s not a built-in part of being a calm goaltender either, cuz Marc Andre-Fleury is a thinker/planner too and he’s still fun to watch. I don’t know if this kid needs to come into his own and get over a youthful ego or what, but as it stands I can barely stand paying attention to Bruins games right now.

    Posted by Me | April 5, 2010, 1:26 am
  7. Well, I think we’ve gotten to the point where we can rely on Tuukka Rask as not only the best goalie on the Bruins, but one of the best goalies in the entire league. Look at his save percentage, then look at Thomas’. Look at his GAA, then look at Thomas’. Add all this up and then look at who a. has the better reflexes and b. has the better goaltending foundation, and there really is only one logical conclusion.

    Posted by The Right Guy | October 18, 2010, 1:50 am

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