Rask Deserving of Conn Smythe Honors

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two

The Boston Bruins are truly fortunate to have Tuukka Rask roaming their crease. Rask has been nearly flawless in these 2013 playoffs and is a major reason why the Bruins are just three victories away from being crowned Stanley Cup champions.

Rask followed up a 59 save effort with arguably one of his most impressive single period showings of his career Saturday night. Chicago continually pelted Rask with shot after shot for the duration of the opening twenty minutes of game 2. He faced 19 shots in the frame and turned aside 18. Rask finished the game with 33 saves, carrying the Bruins on his back in the process.

The Hawks were buzzing the Bruins net, blowing by the defense with ease. Rask weathered the incoming storm and kept his composure. His unflappable demeanor proved to be too much for Chicago, as he only allowed one goal in the contest and completely stonewalled the Hawks. In providing his team with a chance to salvage a disastrous start, Rask’s heroics bolstered an already worthy Conn Smythe résumé.

When Rask was acquired from Toronto back in 2006 his future with the club was a bit hazy. He came over with immense upside, though like any youngster, Rask was raw and in need of refining. With Tim Thomas dominating the scene for a few years, Rask was able to hone his skills. He was thrown into the fire in 2010 after Thomas went down with an injury.

His eye-opening play that season had many anointing him as the future of the franchise. Thomas bounced back better than ever in 2011, leading the Bruins to their first Cup in 39 years. Boston came up short in 2012, as they seemingly ran out of gas in the playoffs.

Thomas sparked a firestorm when he skipped the team’s trip to the White House, publically voicing his opinions against the Obama regime. He headed home for the off-season that year with his future in question. Just as many had speculated, Thomas walked away from the team, in turn freeing up the starting goaltender position that Rask had been longing for.

Rask hit the ground running, as he was more than ready to turn over a new chapter and eagerly prove that he was indeed capable of leading the Bruins to greatness. The rest is history and here Boston stands fighting for their second title in three years thanks to his play. Without question the wealth of knowledge Thomas accumulated during his decorated career helped mold Rask into a star.

The Bruins organization and fans alike have been well aware of his unlimited potential for some time. Rask waited patiently for his chance and has more than made the most of it this season. He quietly built a Vezina worthy campaign. Though Boston’s sweep of Pittsburgh propelled Rask into the national spotlight, exposing his brilliance to the world.

As if limiting the NHL’s top offense in Pittsburgh to only 2 goals wasn’t enough, he shut them out twice. Those sparkling stats initiated possible Conn Smythe chatter.

If it weren’t for a pair of bad breaks in game 1, Boston would be up 2-0 on Chicago. Rask has made 92 saves in two games. He is 13-5 with a 1.73 GAA and a .944 SV% through 18 playoff tilts.

Hockey is game that is forever changing by the second. Amidst those changes, Rask has remained a constant. His ability to block out the numerous stressors and distractions has been invaluable to Boston’s success. He’s made numerous timely, game changing saves.

This Stanley Cup will be determined by the play of Rask.  If he is able to outduel Corey Crawford, Boston will win it all. With the way things have unfolded thus far, it looks as if Rask has his work cut out for him. Chicago will only come harder and faster. If he slams the door in their face, no one will be more deserving of Most Valuable Player honors.

The young net minder received the upmost praise from Claude Julien when he was asked to compare Tuukka to Tim Thomas. Julien said, “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him. Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”

For Julien to say that means a great deal, considering Thomas claimed the Conn Smythe in 2011. Rask is without question the real deal and is one of the best, if not the best goalie in the world.

Frank O’Laughlin – Lead NHL Contributor – Titletown Sports Network

Trackbacks

  1. […] Rask Deserving of Conn Smythe Honors (titletownsportsnetwork.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: