Throughout the 2013-14 NHL season, there have been few goaltenders that have come anywhere close to the consistent and spectacular output of Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. On Wednesday night, the 27 year old led the Bruins to a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens by fending off 35-of-36 shots against, and at this point, it is safe to say that Rask is the clear favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
Although the final scoreline would not indicate this, Rask actually had to keep the Bruins from getting blown out in the early stages of the game, as they were outshot 13-6 in the first period alone. Keeping a clean sheet in the first period helped set a positive tone for the Bruins skaters, and they would ride their confidence in the goaltender to a three goal outburst in the second period. That Rask was given the game’s first star was no surprise, and it was a testament to the 27 year old’s importance, even as Boston took a dominating lead.
After the victory, Rask can boast a resume that can stack up against any goalie in the NHL, as he has a 28-14-4 record, 2.15 GAA, .926 save percentage and six shutouts. Each of these statistics rank in the top five of the NHL amongst goalies that have appeared in at least 40 games, and are a testament to the level of dominance Rask has consistently shown. The Finnish goaltender has appeared 47-of-65 games for the Bruins, and during a time period when the team has launched to the forefront of the Eastern Conference.
More than just putting up great baseline statistics, however, has been the manner in which Rask has achieved all that he has. Only six times all season has the 27 year old let up more than three goals in a single game, and there have really been no holes in his game. The 6-foot-3, 185 pound goaltender has used his big frame to get great angles on the puck, which, when combined with a great level of lateral quickness, forms the necessary tools to be an above average NHL goaltender. When you combine this with a great glove hand and blocker, you have a brick wall in the net and the most dominant force of the 2013-14 season.
With 17 games left in the current regular season, there is little doubting that the picture for all of the major awards is beginning to round into shape, and no goaltender can match Rask in the fight for the Vezina Trophy. Based on the dominant performance he put in against the Canadiens on Wednesday night, there is little doubting that the 27 year old will keep up his great performance moving forward, and he will ultimately win the crown as the best goalie in the NHL.