It’s easy to forget that behind the most dominant goaltender in the entire NHL, the Bruins still have one of the most promising young netminders in the world.
That’s because after he led the league in goals-against average and save percentage as a rookie in 2009-10, Tuukka Rask suffered through a bit of a sophomore slump this season and relinquished his starting job to Tim Thomas.
Granted, a “slump” in this case means that Rask put up a 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage — numbers many starting goaltenders, never mind back-ups, would kill for. But Rask definitely struggled, especially early in the season, and put the Bruins in some poor positions.
As the year went on, he got more used to maximizing his limited playing time. And he said all the right things and was supportive of Thomas on and off the ice. Rask knows his time will come. Plus, it’s easier to have patience when you know you’re name’s going to be engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Regular season: 29 GP, 11-14-2, 2.67, .918
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12 at a $1.25 million cap hit
Best regular-season moment: The first early-season sign that this season wouldn’t be a total disaster for Rask came Nov. 18 against Florida, as he showed flashes of his rookie former in a 41-save performance. Panthers star David Booth attempted 14 shots, including one that knocked Rask’s mask off. But the second-year goaltender was us to the task — even stopping a Christopher Higgins breakaway — in the 4-0 win, which was his first victory of the year.
Best playoff moment: While he never got into a postseason game, Rask was around for morale support. He practiced hard to keep the shooters sharp, worked the bench door and shouted words of encouragement whenever necessary.
Worst moment: After sitting out seven straight games, Rask got a New Year’s present from head coach Claude Julien, who tabbed Rask to start in Buffalo Jan. 1. The goaltender, however, wasn’t ready to go and he allowed three goals on 16 shots before being pulled for the first time in his NHL career.
Regular-season grade: B-plus
Playoff grade: N/A
Carnac predicts … just like Thomas, you can never count Rask out. There should be a great goaltender competition at this fall’s training camp and through the first two thirds of next season.