“That would be an ideal situation, I think, to play here forever. I hope we can make that happen.”-Tuukka Rask
During the extended off-season last summer Peter Chiarelli agreed to a one-year contract extension with goaltender Tuukka Rask. The announcement came just after word got out that Tim Thomas would sit out for the 2013-2014 season to focus on his friends, family and faith. With Thomas gone many people questioned whether Rask would be able to rise to the occasion of starting netminder and handle a full schedule. While he may not have played a set 82-game season, he placed himself among the top five goalies in the National Hockey League and led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years.
Sure there can be some speculation that Rask let a few ‘easy’ saves go by him, but it certainly can’t be said that Rask lost the Cup for the Bruins. It was because of his stellar talents and cat-like reflexes that the Bruins were able to advance from the first round against Toronto and especially against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference Finals as he shut down their offensive prowess with ease.
With the news that veteran defenseman Andrew Ference will not be staying in Boston next season, along with Jaromir Jagr and Nathan Horton, means that Rask will definitely still be around. Rask more than proved himself to the fans of Boston that he can handle the pressure and resist the urge to throw milk crates, while carrying his team while they struggled to find their way at different points of the season, frequently being referred to as the ‘backbone’ of the team. Ultimately he was unable to bring the dream to life in winning the Cup in his first year as starter, but he did tally some monumental stats.
Through the postseason Rask compiled a 1.88 goals-against average and .940 save percentage during his 14-8 stretch. He saved 715 of 761 shots fired on him, and recorded three playoff shutouts, two against the Pittsburgh Penguins and another against the Blackhawks in the Final. Pair that with a solid regular season, in which he had a 19-10-5 record, finishing the season fourth in goals-against average (1.96) and fifth in save percentage (.927) as well as tying for fifth in shutouts with five. (stats via Bruins.com)
“You always try to play good, but then you are trying to get your average game level as high as you can. That the gap between a good game and a bad game wouldn’t be so big,” added Rask, about using a contract extension as motivation. “.. I think we just have to keep doing that and keeping our focus on the right things and not letting it slip. So yes,think we have a chance to bring the Cup back soon and keep having success.”
While there has been no finalization as of yet etching the contract in stone, there is little reason to believe that Rask won’t be wearing the spoked-B on his chest for the next six years or so (at least).