The retirement speculation began Tuesday when The Athletic reported that the Bruins expected Rask to announce his retirement. The news became a reality less than 24 hours after the B’s blew another two-goal lead in their 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rask drew his share of critics throughout his 15 seasons, even with all his accolades. At times, the criticism was warranted. But more often than not, sports radio personalities like Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti and other detractors on social media spewed their hot takes without substance.
Indeed, Rask encountered a rough three-year stretch between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 campaigns. The Bruins entered a transition period over those 36 months and leaned on Rask a little too much, trotting him out for over 60 appearances in each of those seasons.
He was in net in 2010 when the Philadelphia Flyers came from 3-0 down to defeat the Bruins in four straight in their second-round matchup. And again in 2013 against the Blackhawks when Chicago scored twice in 17 seconds to clinch their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. And again in Game 7 against the Blues when the Bruins laid an egg.
Then there’s the biggest head-scratching critique from 2020 when Rask left the playoff bubble in Toronto to attend to a family matter.
But clearly, Rask had his share of spectacular moments in net.
Rask ends his run as the franchise leader in wins (308), games played (554) save percentage (along with Tim Thomas at .921), goals-against average (2.28) and second in shutouts behind Tiny Thompson (52).
His numbers are Hall of Fame and rafters worthy. But Rask’s impact resonated beyond the statistics with his club, even with the disappointing season-ending results.
In 2010, he backstopped an injury-riddled Bruins squad to an unlikely playoff berth and first-round upset of the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins lost David Krejci and Marco Sturm in that second-round matchup against the Flyers. They asked Marc Savard to perform beyond his capabilities following the Matt Cooke incident and slotted Trent Whitfield as a third-line center by the second half of the series.
Three years later, Rask stymied the Maple Leafs, Rangers and the dynamic Penguins en route to the Final. Ditto in 2019 in arguably the best postseason of his career, downing the Leafs in another Game 7 and later a pesky Blue Jackets bunch in six and sweeping an up-and-coming Hurricanes squad before falling to the Blues.
The stability between Boston’s pipes carried over from Thomas to Rask. The former remains a celebrated figure following his stellar 2011 postseason. The latter served as Thomas’ backup on that Cup-winning squad.
Rask has his name on Lord Stanley. He never lifted the Cup as the team’s primary netminder. Yet, certain sections of the fanbase underappreciated Rask’s worth to the organization, often clinging to their tiresome takes.
He tried once more to make another run and finally quiet his naysayers for good. Rask’s health prevented him from doing that in the end. The Bruins’ plan with Rask only briefly deviated from turning the reins over to Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
Rask went down swinging in his comeback bid. He’ll also go down as one of the elite goaltenders of his era.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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