An Appreciation for Tuukka Rask

In Boston, Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark is in the middle of a season to remember.

As of this writing (Tuesday, January 17), Ullmark, 29, is 23-2-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage, and two shutouts. His rankings in the league among goaltenders are also impressive:

  • First in goals-against average
  • First in save percentage
  • First in wins
  • Tied for eighth in shutouts

In looking at what Ullmark has accomplished so far, he is clearly the front-runner to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. He has everything he needs to win that and maybe more, this season.

Ullmark’s strong play this season should stir up memories of another masked man for Bruins fans that was excellent for their franchise. In fact, he was excellent for his entire NHL career, which was all spent in Beantown.

This goaltender would be Tuukka Rask. He starred for the Bruins for 15 years and did everything and more for the franchise except win a Stanley Cup as the starting goaltender.

Rask retired after playing just four games in the 2021-22 season. His final numbers were outstanding as he finished his career with 308 wins, a 2.28 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage, and 52 shutouts.

When talking about elite goaltenders, Rask’s name never seemed to get mentioned. Instead, names like Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Sergei Bobrovsky, and a few others would get mentioned much more than Rask did.

Rask was one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league for several seasons. For starters, he won a lot of games.

Take a lot at these win totals from the 2013-14 season to the 2019-20 season:

  • 2013-14: 36
  • 2014-15: 34
  • 2015-16: 31
  • 2016-17: 37
  • 2017-18: 34
  • 2018-19: 27
  • 2019-20: 26

Those win totals are elite. They also show that when Rask was in goal, the Bruins won a ton of hockey games on a yearly basis.

Rask had impressive save percentages. Yes, the Bruins were known for playing well in front of him, but when there were breakdowns or mistakes, Rask was there to make the big save.

Here are his save percentage totals from the 2012-13 shortened season to the 2019-20 season:

  • 2012-13: .929 save percentage
  • 2013-14: .930 save percentage
  • 2014-15: .922 save percentage
  • 2015-16: .915 save percentage
  • 2016-17: .915 save percentage
  • 2017-18: .917 save percentage
  • 2018-19: .912 save percentage
  • 2019-20: .929 save percentage

Rask also played well in the postseason. Despite not winning a Cup as a starter, he still posted great numbers as he was 57-46 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage, and seven shutouts.

He also earned a lot of individual accolades over the course of his career:

  • Vezina Trophy winner for the 2013-14 season
  • NHL All-Star in 2017 and 2020
  • NHL First All-Star Team in 2014
  • NHL Second All-Star Team in 2020
  • Most games played by a goaltender in Bruins history
  • Most wins by a goaltender in Bruins history
  • Most playoff wins by a goaltender in Bruins history

With the numbers he finished with, it will be interesting to see if the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee gives Rask some serious consideration to be inducted at some point in time. He certainly deserves at least that.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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