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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Perfect Timing for Rask

The Bruins have been on an absolute tear. Since Nov. 29, the Bruins have gone 25-4-4, putting them just behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division.
This has been for several reasons, including stellar play on the blue line and fast-paced play from the forwards. However, what has been understated is the play in net from Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask had fallen out of the good graces amongst Boston fans, due to inconsistent play and poor performance in big games. But this year, Rask seems rejuvenated and in a form we haven’t seen since he won the Vezina Trophy in 2014.
Since his Vezina season, Rask saw a decline in his numbers. Although he has cracked 30 wins every year since 2014, his save percentage dropped from .930 in 2014 to .922 in 2015, and .915 in both 2016 and 2017. In addition to save percentage, Rask’s goal against average (GAA) rose from 2.04 in 2014, to 2.30 in 2015, 2.56 in 2016, and 2.23 in 2017. The most important reason for these statistical setbacks is that they coincided with more games played. Rask had been forced to play more games due to Boston’s struggles with finding a reliable backup goalie. However, this year, the Bruins have not only figured out their problems at backup goaltender, but have formed one of the league’s top goalie tandems.
Rask is still the team’s go-to in net, but the play of Anton Khudobin has given Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy the confidence to give Rask nights off. This allows Rask to stay fresh throughout the regular season, and hopefully for the playoffs. Khudobin struggled last season in Boston’s backup role, but has relished in it this year, almost pushing Rask to be better.
Last season with Boston, Khudobin only played in 16 games, and posted a .904 save percentage and a 2.64 GAA. This year, Khudobin has already played in 20 games en route to a 12-3-4 record, a .925 save percentage and a 2.32 GAA. This play has coincided with Rask’s dominance in net, as he struggled out of the gate this season. Khudobin started getting hot amidst Rask’s struggles, and Rask responded to the challenge. So far, this season, Rask is 23-9-4 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA. The success of Khudobin in net has given Boston a great one-two punch in net, but more importantly has given Rask both motivation and rest to keep the top goaltender ready to play deep into May.
Rask’s turnaround can be attributed to many things: Bruce Cassidy’s system, better defensive play, or better relief goaltending. All that matters is that it appears he has finally broken out of his three-year-long funk, just as Bruins fans believed he might never return to form. The Bruins will certainly need him at his best if they have any hope of reaching the Stanley Cup final, a goal that now seems more attainable than it has in quite some time.