Tuukka Rask is an excellent goalie, and many players of his caliber are headed to Russia knowing their playing status. However, Rask’s position on his country’s national team, Finland, is all but secure. He finds himself in competition for the starting spot with two other Finns, San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, both top-quality NHL net minders.
Why Rask Should Start
Rask has been a force protecting the twine for the Bruins this season following his huge contract extension in the summer of 2013. His 2.11 goals against average (GAA) is the fifth best in the NHL.
Niemi and Lehtonen, on the other hand, don’t even break the NHL’s top 10 in GAA. Niemi is ranked 16th with a 2.39 GAA, while Lehtonen sits firm in the 17th spot with a 2.48 GAA. Rask has the upper hand in save percentage as well.
The Bruins are arguably one of the best defensive squads in the league based on statistics, but they don’t have the most skillful, experienced defenders besides Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuck. Dennis Seidenberg has been out since December and won’t return for the rest of the season after his tearing his ACL/MCL injury. The B’s young defenders, though, have been aggressive and eager to make an impact, so the Bruin’s defense has held together exceptionally well. Dallas’ defenders, while confident moving the puck, often lack the determination to shut down threatening offensive attacks. San Jose shows spurts of solid, fundamental defense, yet they are inconsistent overall.
In the end, the Bruins’ defense wouldn’t be competitive if Rask wasn’t there to make outstanding saves. There have been a good amount of mistakes made by the B’s D-men, and Rask is almost always there to subdue their mishaps, stuffing opposing shots that should most certainly be goals. Also, Rask is definitely one of the most fierce players on the Bruins. An example: he smashed his stick when the Bruins lost in overtime to the St. Louis Blues. He was very frank to the media following the incident.
“Well I’d probably be laughing right now if it weren’t right? But it sucks when you lose it, I just hate it,” said Rask. “Especially when you can’t stop the puck, I think that’s the worst feeling.”
Tuukka wants to be the best goalkeeper out there, and he often lives up to his expectations. He has to be the goalie favorite for Finland. I see him garnering a bunch of ice time and making the Finns surprisingly competitive in Sochi.