BOSTON — Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask gets paid a lot of money to play goalie in the NHL. Like, a real lot. Like, $56 million over the next eight years a lot. So far, he’s lived up to that lofty contract.
Rask turned in another stellar effort Thursday night as he stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced — including all 11 in the third period — as the Bruins hung on for a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Bruins coach Claude Julien surprised some when he tabbed Rask as the starter for the second time in two nights, and the goalie rewarded his coach’s confidence with the impressive performance.
Then again, that’s one of the reasons the B’s gave Rask that enormous contract this past summer.
Rask has been fantastic as of late, which unsurprisingly has coincided with the team’s seven-game winning streak. The 27-year-old has won his last five starts and has posted a .941 save percentage during that time. The quality of saves has been just as impressive and important. Rask made a couple of huge stops Thursday night including stoning Shane Doan on a breakaway, which came a night after he made game-saving stops on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.
“That’s what he makes $8 million for, to make those big saves,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand quipped Thursday night. “So he’s been great and we need him to continue being like that.”
Rask is actually making $6 million this year (according to CapGeek.com) and carries an annual salary cap hit of $7 million, but you get the point.
The Bruins have to just hope now that Rask doesn’t hit a wall. He’s already set a career-high in games played with 16 games still left on the regular-season schedule. Backup goalie Chad Johnson will certainly get his share of playing time down the stretch, but there will be no doubting Rask’s value if he’s able to sustain this level of play in another deep playoff run.