As I have documented on multiple occasions, Tuukka Rask is having an incredible start to the 2016-17 season. He holds a record of 8-1-0, a 1.76 GAA, and a .938 SV%. All of these numbers put Rask on pace to have a career year. But, do the numbers tell the whole story? Statistics never lie, but they can leave out key parts of the story. So is Tuukka really as good as the stats suggest? Let’s take a look.
The Other Side of the Stats sheet (criticisms):
Strength of Opponents:
The first thing I want to take a look at is the strength of the opponents Rask has won against this season. As documented, Rask has 8 wins so far, and a lot of them have been dominated by Rask’s ability to stop the puck. Of those 8 wins, against 7 different opponents, how many were against quality teams? Rask has won against Columbus, Winnipeg, New Jersey, Detroit, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo. Of those seven teams, only 2 Tampa Bay and Detroit rank above Boston in the early season standings. Teams like Florida and Buffalo rank outside of 20th place so far. Of the 2 wins against better teams, one came in an incredible showdown against Detroit where Boston won 1-0, and the other was a 4-3 shootout win against Tampa. The only other game against a formidable opponent, was a devastating 5-2 loss against the New York Rangers. While a lot of that game was mistakes by the team as a whole, Rask is still accountable for not saving the puck. In his six games against lower ranked opponents, Rask holds a GAA of 1.51. Against teams ranked higher than Boston, Rask has a 2.67 GAA. That’s over a goal per game more. And it kind of makes you wonder…
Is He Choosing His Opponents?:
Early in the season, Tuukka Rask was dealing with some kind of lower-body injury that kept him out-of-action for multiple games. During his absence, the Bruins played against Toronto, Montreal, Minnesota, and New York. While he was said to be injured, all that was ever told was that he was battling soreness. What goalie in the NHL doesn’t fight soreness every game? It’s practically in the job description, but Rask was held out. Do I think he was hurt? Yeah, I do. Do I think he was injured? No, and yes, there is a difference. Then while healthy, the Bruins took part in a back-to-back, first playing Buffalo and then Montreal. The thought of many close to the team, and anybody with half a brain, expected rookie Zane McIntyre be called on to play the less challenging Buffalo Sabres, and Montreal would be taken care of by Tuukka Rask. Instead, the opposite happened, with Rask taking the net in the Buffalo game and Zane playing the hated Habs. When you look back at the schedule, when Rask missed 3 straight, it was Montreal that was the first game of his hiatus. Knowing how good Montreal was, did Rask feign injury, and ask for the game off against Montreal both times? If so, is that a red flag that he is scared to play good teams? Is he fighting for his stats, or for the team?
He’s Just That Good (defending Rask):
Rask has 2 shutouts on the season so far. In 3 other games, he’s only given up one goal. Those are impressive numbers, regardless of who they are against. If you are giving up a goal or less in most of your games, you are giving your team a chance to win. He has only given up 3 or more in 3 games, giving up 2 goals in the other game. Those are numbers any team would love to have from their goalie. A low-scoring opponent, is the ideal opponent.
Only One Real Hiccup:
Rask really does only have one bad game on his 2016-17 resume. He only has one loss, and it was his only bad game. He’s played a great season. In his games when healthy, he has tracked the puck, moved quickly, and given shooters nothing to shoot at. The stats are not lying to us, he’s just that good.
Verdict: No, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
There’s no denying he has had an incredible start, but until he starts putting up consistently good numbers against good opponents, Rask’s stats will not be a reflection of his talent. I know he is good, but these numbers, considering who they came against, paint him as being better than he is.
What are your thoughts on this? Is Rask really the 4th best in the league, or is he only ahead through circumstance? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and share the post and the page! It really helps me feel good about the page. Good day, and go B’s!