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Tuukka Rask was the best goaltender in the NHL last season and won his first Vezina Trophy as a result.
The 27-year-old netminder’s stats were even better in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, but his team wasn’t able to score enough goals to defeat the rival Montreal Canadiens in the second round.
Rask is poised for another Vezina Trophy-caliber campaign as he enters the prime of his career and his second full season as the starting goalie of the Boston Bruins.
2013-14 Stats: 36-15-6, .930 SV%, 2.04 GAA in 58 games
Contract: Expires after 2020-21 season, with a $7 million salary-cap hit each year
What He Will Bring The Team
Rask was fantastic last season. He ranked second in save percentage, fourth in goals against average, first in shutouts and fifth in wins.
The Finnish netminder also helped the Bruins rank first in team save percentage, and his .885 SvPctHigh (defined here) led the league. His .933 save percentage when the Bruins were trailing ranked second behind New York’s Henrik Lundqvist among goalies who played in 50-plus games.
Rask is the type of goaltender capable of bailing out teams when they don’t play well, and his confidence always is high. He’s very athletic, fundamentally sound and rarely gets caught out of position — unlike his predecessor Tim Thomas.
If Rask stays healthy, the Bruins should rank in the top five of goals against and have a top-10 penalty kill again.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Rask was much better at home than he was on the road last season. His home save percentage was .941, compared to just .916 on the road. His 2.51 GAA away from Boston was almost a full goal worse than his home GAA (1.67). Four of the first seven games on the Bruins schedule are on the road, so Rask will need to improve these numbers for Boston to start the 2014-15 campaign on the right foot.
Expected Role For 2014-15
Rask will play between 55-65 games as the No. 1 goalie and post Vezina Trophy-level numbers. He’s also the Bruins’ most valuable player and will need to play at a high level in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs for Boston to win another championship because the offense probably won’t be as potent as it was last season.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: 38-13-9, .933 SV%, 2.02 GAA in 60 games
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