By Matt Cunha
The Boston Bruins are 5-4 so far on the season. On Tuesday Night, the Bruins were able to take down the Florida Panthers after only accumulating 3 shots in the entire first period. Yet, the Bruins had a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. The reasoning why lies in goalie. Tuukka Rask, who turned away all of Florida’s 13 first period shots and keep the Panthers scoreless. Rask nearly had his second shootout in as many games. His play so far this year has given Bruins fans a reason to be optimistic.
Rask has been a game changer this year for the black and gold. The stats are simple, with him, the B’s are 5-0. Without him, they are 0-4. Rask has a goals against of 1.2 this season, while the other goalies have a combined goals against average of 4.5. That’s 3.3 goals a game less than when Rask has been in goal for the Bruins. His .961 save percentage is second in the league, and what makes his showing this season that much more impressive is the Bruins mediocre defense. Every game Rask has been peppered with the other team’s scoring opportunities. The 4.5 goals given up per game without him in net speaks words of how bad the Bruins defense really is. So far this season, Rask has been up to the task.
In Rask’s five games this season, the Bruins have scored two goals or fewer three times. These can go under the “stolen” game category for Rask. During the offseason, he was rumored to be on the trade market and just many were questioning his $7.5 million per year contract and his ability to led a team with problems in other areas. The questions were justified after giving up more than 2.5 goals a game and while sporting a save percentage of .911. Despite the below average defense, the numbers don’t add up to the contract. Making $7.5million a year, you should be stealing games when your team desperately needs a win, that’s what necessitates big bucks.
It has been a different story for the Bruins goalie this year. If he can keep it up, the B’s will likely be headed back to the playoffs after collapsing the last two seasons. Through 5 games, Bruins fans should be very optimistic about Tuukka Rask. The Bruins playoff hopes could very much ride on one man. That being said, the goalie needs to continue his Vezina-like performance so far this season. If not, it could be another long season for Bruins fans.
Matt Cunha is a producer on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.