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Saturday, 28 October 2017 03:28

Tuukka Time Needs To Begin Immediately

Written by 

If the Boston Bruins want to stop being wildly inconsistent, their expensive goaltender needs to step up and lead the way.

It’s time, Tuukka.

Time to show up.

Time to show why you are the number one goalie in Boston.

Time to prove why you’re one of the highest-paid goaltenders in the entire league.

Your team needs Tuukka Time to begin, starting on Saturday night. 

They need to hear the words: "Two U's, two K's, two points for the Bruins" on a regular basis.

Tuukka Rask has been awful this season.  Granted, he’s only started four games, but he’s currently on a three-game losing streak and has been between the pipes for three of Boston’s four losses this year.  Rask is 1-3-0 with a .882 save percentage and a 3.30 GAA, which ranks him 50th in save percentage and 42nd in goals against out of the 64 goalies that have played in the league this season.

Those stats are pitiful, and when you combine them with his $7 million salary (which is the third-highest among goaltenders coming into the season – only Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky make more than Rask), it is easy to put a lot of Boston’s early season struggles squarely on the back of Rask.

What isn’t helping Rask’s cause is that his backup, Anton Khudobin, has been pretty good this season.  Khudobin is 3-0-1 with a 2.52 GAA and a .926 save percentage in his four starts, and is coming off of his best performance on Thursday night when he made 36 saves in Boston’s 2-1 victory over the Sharks.

This Bruins team is not good enough yet to overcome a below-average goalie.  They have been wrecked by the injury bug, they are trying to incorporate many young players into their lineup, and their compete level as a whole has been wildly inconsistent. 

The only thing that has been consistent is that their primary goalie has just not been good enough to help his team out.

It has been role reversal in 2017 for the two netminders, as Rask was spectacular to begin the 2016-17 season, while Khudobin struggled mightily.  Rask’s strong play was necessary, as the B’s defense was a clear weakness at the start of the year.  Rask won 10 of his first 11 starts, with three shutouts and four more games in which he allowed just one goal.  He even exorcised his Montreal demons by defeating the B’s archrival twice last season, and ended the year with a career-high 37 wins and eight shutouts.

Khudobin dealt with injuries in the first half of last season, but was pretty bad in net for Boston in the few starts that he did receive.  The backup didn’t pick up his third win of the season until late February (he already has three this year), and lost six of his first seven starts before earning six straight victories from mid February to early April. 

Even with that run of wins late in the year, the Bruins were just 7-11-2 without Rask in the lineup last season, and 37-20-5 with him starting in the crease. 

This year, the B’s are 1-3-0 with Rask, and 3-0-1 without him.  They’ve also proven that they can defeat some of the better teams in the league, and look absolutely horrendous against some of the underachieving teams in the early season.  With a young, inexperienced roster which has been ravaged by injuries and illnesses already, the crazy ups and downs can be somewhat expected.

What would help even out the B’s performances on the ice would be a solid, consistent presence in net that would take a lot of defensive pressure off, and would likely lead to more aggressive play in the offensive end.

Which is why Tuukka Rask needs to step his game up immediately.  There have always been questions regarding his contract, his competitiveness, and his desire to excel and live up to his paycheck.  He can either silence those critics, and move this team out of mediocrity, or he can keep playing the way he has this season, which will likely lead to another missed postseason.

If Tuukka Time doesn’t begin real soon, it’s going to be a long season for the Boston Bruins. 

Adam Belue

My name is Adam Belue, I'm from Fall River, MA, and I'm a sports fanatic.  I'll watch and write about just about any and every sport, even the fringe ones that aren't really sports like bowling, poker, and ultimate frisbee.  I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and a self-proclaimed New England Patriots hater (and proud of it!)... which makes my job in a sporting goods store quite interesting.  I'm a big fan of the other local teams (Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics), along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and college football as a whole.  I may be a bit obsessed (or a lot obsessed) with Taylor Swift, and I've seen her in concert four times so far... some of the best times I've had by the way her concerts are quite the experience!  I'm also a huge tennis fan, and have played the sport for a good majority of my life.  I wish more people watched and appreciated tennis.  I'm currently a part of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox Beat Team on CLNS Radio, and post a weekly fantasy football and college football column during the season.