BOSTON — Bruins center Gregory Campbell tries, but he can’t score on teammate Tuukka Rask. He’s far from alone when it comes to not being able to solve Rask, though.
That’s why Rask was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his career on Friday. The finalist nod is just confirmation that everyone else has learned what the Bruins have known for a long time: Rask is very, very good at stopping hockey pucks.
The Bruins, of course, see it up close and personal every day, whether it’s in a game or on the practice rink. Campbell doesn’t know what it is exactly that makes Rask one of the league’s best, but the Boston center admitted that he can’t score on Rask, which is enough validation for him.
“I’m super thrilled,” Campbell said of the news Friday. “It’s been an honor to play with Tuukka. He’s an extremely talented goalie. He’s not only talented, but he works extremely hard. I’ve seen him kind of develop a little bit since I’ve been here.”
Rask had a case to be a finalist last season, but he was on the outside looking in when the finalists were announced. He played so well this season that there was little doubt that he’d be named a finalist. Had he been snubbed, though, there may have been a riot on Causeway Street with Bruins coach Claude Julien leading the charge.
“To me, it’s been a no-brainer,” Julien said. “He’s been so good for us. He’s had an unbelievable season. He did well at the Olympics for his team, too. This is based on the NHL, and I just think he’s had a tremendous year, and I’d be really disappointed if he wasn’t one of the three nominees.”
Rask’s performance this season is even more impressive given the personnel around him and in front of him. The B’s have been without veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg since late December and have put faith in young blueliners as well as newly acquired D-men to help them get to the playoffs. There were slip-ups along the way, and more often than not, Rask was there to bail out the Bruins. They’re more than appreciative for that.
“He deserves to get nominated for that award,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “He’s helped us win some games that we shouldn’t have. He’s stoppd some great pucks this year. He gives us a chance to accomplish what we did in the regular season and hopefully accomplish the ultimate goal in the playoffs.”
So far, so good on that front. Rask is putting up mind-boggling numbers through four postseason games (he’s allowed just four goals so far), and he was at his very best when the Bruins were caught in a Detroit buzz saw on Thursday night in Game 4. Rask’s 14 first-period saves kept the Bruins in the game and allowed them to come from behind before winning the game in overtime.
The B’s weren’t surprised, though. They’ve seen him do that all season.