Tuukka snubbed of Vezina Trophy consideration
Whenever Tuukka Rask is in net, there’s a good chance for Bruins fans to hear Jack Edwards say one of his famous catch phrases: “two u’s, two k’s and two points.” But after today’s announcement of the Vezina Trophy finalists, its safe to say that the NHL General Managers robbed Tuukka for consideration as the leagues top goaltender.
While there’s no arguing that Sergei Bobrovsky and Antti Neimi deserve consideration for their stellar performances between the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks’ pipes, respectively, the questionable decision of having Henrik Lundqvist get the nod over Rask is a head scratcher to many in The Hub of Hockey.
“We just talked about it this morning and I was surprised,” backup goaltender Anton Khudobin said about Tuukka’s snub after today’s morning skate in Toronto. “He played real consistently every game and he gave us a good chance to get to the playoffs and to get the point we needed to. He kept us there and stole some games for us.”
Even if Rask was a finalist, Bobrovsky is the clear cut favorite to win the award and should get some votes for the Hart Trophy. But the argument here is Rask’s candidacy as one of the top three goaltenders.
Looking at the numbers as a whole, Lundqvist, who started 43 games for the Blueshirts, topped Rask (34 starts) in wins with 24. Other than that, Tuukka had the upper hand in goals against average, save percentage and shutouts.
While its true that Lundqvist had a better record (10-3-1 vs. Rask’s 4-5-1) and goals against average (1.76 to Tuukka’s 1.93) than Rask during the month of April, Tuukka was equally impressive in that span and topped “King Henrik” in save percentage (.941 for Rask, .934 for Lundqvist) and notched three shutouts.
Lundqvist does have an edge when it comes to his performance against Eastern Conference playoff teams. The Swedish netminder was 9-8-3 with a 2.16 goals against and a .923 save percentage. Rask, in comparison, was 8-6-5 with a 2.16 GAA and a .914 SV%. Both goalies also recorded one shutout against the top eight in the East.
In their team’s victories, however, Tuukka was more impressive. In 19 wins, Rask compiled a stellar 1.03 goals against average and a save percentage of .963. Lundqvist, in his 24 wins, posted a 1.56 GAA and .944 SV%. (Stick tap to fellow Bruins Daily colleague Dan St. Pierre for digging up these statistics).
Certainly these numbers are debatable, but in the aftermath of Tim Thomas’ departure, Rask has done an exceptional job and is considered an elite goalie by his fellow teammates.
“He’s been great,” said Andrew Ference. “If you look at his play alone, he’s done a great job, but if you look at the situation he’s come into, especially following Timmy’s footsteps, there was a lot of pressure on him to jump in and be that No. 1 guy that everyone knows that he’s been waiting to be. So, he came into a situation like that, and to play the way that he has, it has a couple of extra bonus points.”
“It’s the view of the GM’s, but we know how much he means in this locker room, and we know how many times he’s kept us in games,” added fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “Everything else doesn’t really matter. It would be nice for him to be up for that nomination, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter.”
Perhaps the Vezina Trophy snub will be a motivation factor for Rask as the Bruins look to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4. But either way, the bigger prize is ahead for Tuukka and company.
“I don’t think Tuukka is going to lose any sleep over it, or I hope not,” said head coach Claude Julien.
“At the end of the day, you aim for the big trophy [the Stanley Cup], which is more important than any individual one. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
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