This is a guest post by Steve Cheeseman, an NHL enthusiast and part time sports writer.
At the end of the 2012 season, the Boston Bruins finished the regular season winning the north-east division, which was good for second place in the eastern conference. However the dream of a second Stanley Cup in 3 seasons came to a screeching halt at the hands of Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. With a players strike looming, things couldn’t seem to get much worse. Guess again. In June, the Bruins star goaltender Tim Thomas, decided not to retire from hockey, but take a year off even though he was still under contract. Thomas stated, “hockey just isn’t that important right now”. Tim Thomas decided to put the “3 F’s” ahead of hockey. Family, friends, and faith. Whether that was everything on Thomas’s mind or not is open for debate, either way, the Bruins needed a goaltender to get them back to the promised land. Enter Tuuka Rask.
The young Finnish goaltender originally drafted 21st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, was traded to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft in 2006. After a couple of season’s between Boston and their AHL affiliate Providence, Rask won the starting job over Tim Thomas for the 2009-10 season, playing in 45 games winning 22, with a 1.97 GAA. However the following season, he slipped back into the shadows of Thomas once again, playing in only 52 games over the next two years.
When Tim Thomas made the announcement that he was leaving, there were a lot a people in the hockey world, fans and professionals alike who went into panic mode. Meanwhile, there was a hungry, and exciting young goaltender waiting to get a chance to prove once and for all, he was ready to bring the holy grail of hockey back to “Beantown”. So far he has been anything but a disappointment. During 36 games of the 2013 regular season, Rask has 5 shutouts (tie for 1st), .929 save percentage (3rd), and a 2.00 GAA (4th). Pretty good for a guy sitting on the bench for the last 2 seasons. Did I mention he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender of the NHL for the 2013 season?
As for the playoffs, following a long 7 game series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins disposed of the New York Rangers in 5 games and are up 2 games to 0 on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, just 2 wins away from the Stanley Cup finals. You may ask, what has Rask contributed so far? How about 10 wins, a .935 save percentage, to go along with a shutout. Not too shabby. The story for the rest of this 2013 NHL season has yet to be written. However, to think of what might be, is only as exciting as your imagination make it. However one things for sure, regardless how this season finishes, its been quite the year for Tuukka Rask. Just think, he’s only 26 years old.