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Behind The Bench: Tuukka Rask

by on 09/30/2011

Vitals

Born: Savonlinna, FIN
Birth date: March 10, 1987
Height: 6’3” (190 cm)
Weight: 181 lbs (82 kg)
Position: Goaltender
Catches: Left
NHL Draft: 21st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005
NHL Team: Boston Bruins
Jersey No.: #40
National Team: Finland
NHL Contract: $1,250,000
Cap Hit: 11/12

History

Early in his career, Rask played in the SM-liiga with Ilves. Rask spent several years with the club. First as a back-up, and then rose to the starting position. In his draft year, Rask put together a great season in the Finnish Jr. A, SM-liiga and the WJC. Not only did Rask help his team win the Finnish Jr. A championship with 9 wins in 10 games, a 0.87 GAA, and a .973 Sv%, he also helped Team Finland capture a bronze medal at the U18 WJC. Rask was then drafted 21st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005.

Rask never played a game as a Maple Leaf as he was traded to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. Rask played another 2 seasons with Ilves before signing a three year NHL entry-level contract with the Bruins. Rask started the 2007-08 season with the Providence Bruins but was quickly recalled to join Boston. Rask started in 4 NHL games during the 2007-08 season, posting a 2-1-1 record with a 3.86 GAA and a .886 Sv%. Rask played in 45 AHL games posting a 27-12-2 record with 1 SO, a 2.33 GAA, and .905 Sv%.

The following season, Rask had a strong pre-season but was sent down to Providence when the team decided to go with a more veteran presence in net. Rask carried the bulk of the work in Providence and posted considerably better numbers than the season before. He started in 57 games, had a 33-20-4 record with 4 shutouts, a 2.50 GAA, and a .915 Sv%. Rask also appeared in one NHL game recording his first shutout win.

Rask was named the back-up goaltender to Tim Thomas for the 2009-10 season and it did not take him long to supplant the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the starter. Rask appeared in 45 games and posted a 22-12-5 record with 5 shutouts, a 1.97 GAA, and a .931 Sv%. Rask was the only goalie in the league with a GAA below 2.00, a save percentage over .930, and was the only rookie to ever lead the league with a sub-2.00 GAA while leading the league in save percentage. Despite his accomplishments during the regular season, Rask was not named as a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy to compete for the league’s rookie of the year. Despite a very strong 2009-10 playoff run, Rask will go down in history as the 4th goaltender in history to lose a 7 game series after leading 3-0 as Boston was eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Rask lost his starting position to Tim Thomas during the 2010-11 season and struggled to adjust to the back-up role at the NHL level. He played in 29 games and posted an 11-14-2 record with 2 shutouts, a 2.67 GAA, and a .918 Sv%. Rask did not play a single game during Boston’s 2010-11 playoff run.

Talent Analysis

Pros

  • Explosive lateral movement
  • Covers a lot of the net
  • Good size
  • Covers the bottom of the net well
  • Has the ability to keep his team in the game against any opponents
  • Goes form a butterfly style to his skates quickly
  • Very poised
  • Good anticipation
  • Can be depended on to make big key saves for his team

Cons

  • Needs to improve his stamina
  • Needs to add weight in order to be relied on as a workhorse

Future

Rask has shown himself to be one of the elite goaltenders in the league with his play during the 2009-10 season. If it wasn’t for Tim Thomas’ outstanding goaltending during the 2010-11 season, Rask would have continued to cement himself as an elite goaltender. Rask will be relegated to the back-up role to start the season as it is doubtful Boston will have their Stanley Cup winning goaltender sit that many games.

While Rask is Boston’s backup goaltender, he’ll get at least 25 starts and he’ll win 15. It’s hard to say if Thomas will carry his strong play from the Stanley Cup playoffs into the 2011-12 regular season. Recent history has shown he can be inconsistent from year to year. Don’t be surprised to see Thomas struggle early on which will allow Rask to take over the starting position by January. If that scenario plays out, expect Tuukka Rask to play 45+ games next season, helping the Bruins win 25 of them.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 21st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft
  • 1st NHL Game – November 20th, 2007 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (4-2 W)
  • 1st NHL Win – November 20th, 2007 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 1st NHL Lost – December 6th, 2007 vs. Montreal Canadiens (2-4 L)
  • 1st NHL OT Lost – December 5th, 2007 vs. New Jersey Devils (3-4 OTL)
  • 1st NHL Shutout – January 31st, 2009 vs. New York Rangers (1-0 W)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Game – April 15th, 2010 vs. Buffalo Sabres (1-2 L)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Win – April 17th, 2010 vs. Buffalo Sabres (5-3 W)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Lost – April 15th, 2010 vs. Buffalo Sabres (1-2 L)
  • 1st NHL Playoff OT Lost – May 7th, 2010 vs. Philadelphia Flyers (4-5 OTL)
  • 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion

Career Highlights

  • 2005-06 U20 WJC All-Star Team
  • 2005-06 U20 WJC Best Goaltender
  • 2005-06 U20 WJC Bronze Medal
  • 2007-08 AHL All-Star Game
  • 2009-10 NHL Best Sv% (.931)
  • 2010-11 NHL Stanley Cup Champion

Career Stats

AHL: 102 GP, 60 W, 33 L, 6 OTL, 5 SO, 2.43 GAA, .906 Sv%
AHL Playoffs:
26 GP, 15 W, 11 L, 2 SO, 2.20 GAA, .923 Sv%
NHL:
79 GP, 36 W, 27 L, 8 OTL, 8 SO, 2.25 GAA, .925 Sv%
NHL Playoffs:
13 GP, 7 W, 6 L, 2.61 GAA, .910 Sv%
SM-liiga:
83 GP, 30 W, 27 L, 18 T, 5 SO, 2.36 GAA
SM-liiga Playoffs:
10 GP, 2 W, 8 L, 2.81 GAA
WJC-18:
10 GP, 2 W, 1 L 2 OTL, 2.29 GAA
WJC-20:
17 GP, 4 W, 2 L, 1 SO, 2.67 GAA, .899 Sv%

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