Rask More Than Worthy of the Conn Smythe Win or Lose
By Patrick Hoffman
It's not very often that a player on the losing team wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's most valuable player in the playoffs.
When it does happen, it's usually the goaltender. Win or lose, I think this is going to happen with Boston Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask come the end of Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
Simply put, Rask has been absolutely marvelous in the postseason this year. For a guy that many Bruins' fans complain about about not being an elite goaltender or a guy that comes up big in big games and key situations.
As of this writing (June 10), Rask is 15-8 with a 1.93 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage, and four shutouts. He's come up big time and time again this postseason and with everything on the line on Wednesday night, one should expect Rask to be at his best.
He's also been dynamite against the Blues in this series. He's allowed 13 goals on 153 shots and was particularly good in Game 6 when he stopped 28 of 29 shots in his club's 5-1 win in a must win Game 6.
Hockey writer Michael Hurley of CBS Boston titled his piece on the Bruins' Game 6 win as "Game 6 Must Be Remembered As 'the Tuukka Rask Game'. Hurley is certainly right as Rask made several key saves to help get his team to a Game 7.
When the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 in defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games, their netminder at the time, Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe. Thomas was masterful in that postseason, but in my opinion, Rask has been even better in this postseason than Thomas was in 2011.
Rask has been in completely control of his game in these playoffs. He does not give up a lot of rebounds, he knows where he is in his net at all times, and he keeps things simple.
Thomas did not play the position in a simple fashion, especially during that Cup run in 2011. He was all over the place and while he did make some unbelievable saves, his defense did a great job of clearing all the loose pucks that he left in front of his net.
With all of this said, Rask deserves the Conn Smythe win or lose. Yes, there are players on each club that have certainly played well enough to merit consideration, but none of them have had as big an impact that Rask has had in these playoffs.
It will be interesting to see what happens come Wednesday night, but in my mind, Rask winning the Conn Smythe is what should happen.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.