Tuukka Rask and Carey Price have traveled similar paths in their journey as a National Hockey League goaltender.
Before they got to the NHL, Rask and Price were touted by the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, respectively, as potential franchise goalies. Price was the Habs first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Rask, drafted by the Maple Leafs, was acquired in 2006 in the infamous trade that sent former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft to Toronto.
Price got a first taste of the spotlight in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he was thrust into the starting role after former Montreal GM Bob Gainey traded Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals at the Trade Deadline. His development, however, took a bit of a hit after the 2008-09 postseason, remembered mostly for doing the Patrick Roy gesture during Game 4 of their first round series with the Bruins.
After relinquishing his starting role in the 2009-10 playoffs to Jaroslav Halak – who singlehandedly guided Les Habitants to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 17 years – Price signed a contract extension and never looked back after Halak was dealt to St. Louis on draft day.
Like Price, Rask was thrust into the starting role in his first full season after Tim Thomas’ hip problems sidelined him for some of the 2009-10 season. By the time Thomas returned, Rask took over the No. 1 goaltending duties for the 2010 playoffs and helped the B’s upset the Sabres in the first round before their collapse against the Flyers in Round Two. The Finnish goalie then had two injury-riddled season before becoming the full-time starter when Tim Thomas took his sabbatical during the 2013 Lockout shortened season.
As sexy as the two stories are, you can throw that out the window when the two teams drop the puck in Game 1 on Thursday.
As good as Price and Rask are, the two have some statistical differences.
Even though the Habs swept the Lightning in the first round, Price’s numbers took a little dip. His save percentage was a paltry .904 while his goals against average was a 2.33 in the four-game series. Perhaps part of that is the defense in front of him isn’t as good as he saw when he helped Team Canada win the gold in the Winter Olympics, but as the old adage says, it is what it is.
Rask, however, was stellar against the Red Wings. The stats might not even do justice as an indicator as to how well Tuukka played in the Bruins’ first round win. He allowed just six goals in five games while tallying an impressive .961 save percentage and 1.16 goals against average.
And then there’s the record against the opposition. Lifetime, Rask is just 3-10-3 against the Habs with a 2.63 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Price, meanwhile, does quite well against the Bruins going 17-8-3 against them with a 2.50 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
All the stats, however, will be put aside when Game 1 starts Thursday night. Rask and Price wouldn’t want to have it any other way.