There is little doubt that Tuukka Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. In his 196 games played in net, Rask has a .928 save percentage, a 2.11 goals against average, and 23 career shutouts. Despite his excellent consistency, there is one team more than any other that has frustrated Rask the most. Unfortunately for Tuukka, that team happens to be the Boston Bruins’ biggest rival, the Montreal Canadiens.
Rask has started 16 games against the Canadiens and has lost most of them, sporting a 3-10-3 record. The only other team that Rask has faced at least five times that he has a lower winning percentage against is the Washington Capitals (1-3-3). Against teams that he has faced at least five times, Rask’s second lowest save percentage and second highest goals against average are both once again against the Canadiens. Although it seems odd to say that a goalie that is consistently at the top of the league in almost every major statistical category has more to prove, when looking at his career numbers against Montreal, Rask still has something to prove in this series.
The criticism Rask faces may seem unfair because of how great he has been for the team throughout his career. A case can be made that the poor record Rask has against Montreal says more about his team as a whole than him in particular. More than any other team, the Habs have a way of getting the Bruins out of their typically solid defensive structure. Those defensive breakdowns, which occur when a Bruins player misses his assignment because he is more interested in laying a hit on a player than defending his particular zone on the ice, often times leads to great scoring chances for Montreal.
Even though that is true, Tuukka has the highest cap hit of any goaltender in the NHL this season and will be the second-highest paid goalie for the next few years. Getting paid as a top flight goalie means he needs to make big saves in big games and every game against Montreal is a big game for Boston.
Although Rask has been great in his career for the Bruins, until he starts beating the Canadiens more consistently there will be something he needs to prove. Fairly or unfairly, Rask is held to a higher standard because of how much he gets paid. His cap hit of $7,000,000 is higher than any other player on the Bruins. While Rask has achieved a lot in his short career, he still has something to prove against the Canadiens, and it starts by winning this series.