Nerd alert: Information proves Rask is one of NHL's best playoff goalies

Nerd alert: Information proves Rask is one of NHL's best playoff goalies

Tuukka Rask has to prove himself this postseason. Know why? Because quite frankly he hasn’t won a damn thing. 

OK, now that we’re done being idiots, let’s actually talk about Tuukka Rask in the playoffs. He’s… good! As in really good. As in holy-cow-how-the-hell-do-people-even-come-up-with-the-Tuukka-Rask-needs-to-prove-himself-in-the-postseason stuff. 

You should already know by now that Rask’s 2013 performance was statistically as good, if not better than Tim Thomas’ 2011 performance.

No it wasn’t. A guy on a team that didn’t win can’t have a better performance than a guy on a team that won!

OK, now that we’re done with that little break from not being idiots, yes, Rask was as good, if not better in 2013 than Thomas was in 2011. 

In fact, since reclaiming the starting job, Rask has been one of the best playoff goaltenders in the league. Since 2013, Rask has the second-highest save percentage among goalies with 10 games played in the postseason. His .936 mark sits behind only Braden Holtby (.939) and well above the likes of Carey Price (.916) and Jonathan Quick (.917). 

Yeah, well he’s only played in two postseasons since 2013. Easy to keep up good playoff numbers when you don’t have to play.

Double-check where he ranks in games played.  

The only question with Rask is whether he can carry his play from late in the regular season (a .971 save percentage with two shutouts over his last six games) into the playoffs. That's unsustainable, but if he puts up anything close to that, the Bruins will crush the Senators. And he's certainly smoked better teams in the playoffs before (sup Pittsburgh). 

This season has been a bumpy ride for Rask. He's one of 14 goalies with a cap hit between $5.5 million and $7.5 million and he ranked eighth in save percentage among that group in the regular season. Would you like his cap hit to be closer to the middle -- something like $6.5 million rather than $7 million? Sure, but that means that the complaints about him being overpaid come down to half a million dollars for one of your best players. Even in a down year, Rask isn't nearly the problem he's been made out to be.

That said, now would be a terrible time for his up-and-down season to dip too far down. His last two two postseasons have shown that on the whole, that probably won't happen. He’s been anywhere from good-to-great in the postseason. 

This is not a declaration that Rask will be lights-out. Quite frankly, the Bruins' injury situation and any lingering questions about Erik Karlsson's foot make this series an absolute tossup. The bigger concern as it relates to Rask is the group playing in front of him. The Bruins will face an offensively unremarkable Senators team in the first round, but an already mediocre defense has been decimated by injuries. If Rask is under seige and rebounds are up for grabs more so than usual, maybe those great playoff numbers dip closer to what they were this regular season.

So have your suspicions about Rask if you’d like based on 2010 or anything else, but just know that as it relates to his play, you won’t have much of an argument. Read a book for me one time. 

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.