It appears that Tuukka Rask has won back his role as the starting goaltender for the Boston Bruins.
Despite another shaky start to the season and stiff competition from free-agent acquisition Jaroslav Halak, the 31-year-old Finn is stringing together stellar performances as of late.
Rask’s recent four-game run includes a pair of wins over the Sabres, a 4-0 victory over the Wild for his first shutout of the season and his spectacular Winter Classic outing against the Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium.
“Results have been happening, yeah, so that’s good. Yeah, felt good since November, I guess,” Rask said after notching career win No. 250 on Tuesday against the Wild.
“That was awesome,” defenseman Brandon Carlo added. “We obviously love watching [Rask] accomplish that kind of goal of getting a shutout and he did really well.”
The 2014 Vezina trophy winner has allowed just a mere five goals on 122 shots for a .959 save percentage over that span. More importantly, he has looked the part of a confident bonafide No. 1 goaltender in the National Hockey League.
Rask, who has started four of Boston’s last six contests, is unquestionably performing better than his counterpart Halak and slowly but surely taking his spot back as the team’s workhorse.
“Well, that’s a bit of the plan going forward,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Boston’s 4-0 route of Minnesota. “Tuukka’s now earning the – I don’t want to say the net back. I don’t think that’s the appropriate term but more starts. So, we’ll see how he runs with it.”
Rask’s improvement and Halak’s worst stretch of the season give the Finn the edge in net, at least for the time being.
Halak started the year 12-5-2 and ranked among the league’s best in goals against average and save percentage. Yet the veteran is 1-2-0 with a subpar .877 save percentage in his last three outings. His recent woes continued Thursday night as the Bruins had their five-game win streak snapped by the Washington Capitals in a tightly contested game at TD Garden.
The Bruins erased a one-goal deficit for the second time of the evening early in the third period. But with Boston in prime position to swing the momentum on its side, Halak failed to stop a routine shot on Nicklas Backstrom’s eventual game-winner just 1:09 after David Krejci’s equalizer.
“It went in. You know, it was just one of the shots, you know, top of the circle kind of low glove, so like I said, I just need to make a save on that one and it could have been still 2-2, and we would still be in the game,” Halak said about his third period blunder. “So tough sequence, but like I said, you know just need to be better I guess. The next game I get a chance and hopefully down the road I can help the guys.”
The Bruins need a bounce back from Halak at some point, ideally during their four-game-in-six-night stretch before the bye week. For now, they’ll ride Rask’s hot hand as he approaches Tiny Thompson’s franchise record of 252 career wins in a Bruins uniform.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.