An Ode to Tuukka

After 15 seasons with the Boston Bruins, the franchise’s winningest goaltender has retired. After battling a hip-injury all last season that required surgery, Tuukka Rask was sidelined to start the year. In January Rask began down the path of a comeback, but after just 4 games in net for the Bruins, the triumphant return of the Vezina trophy winner was called off. The writing was on the wall and it was time for the 34-year old to hang up his skates and officially retire from hockey. Two Us, two Ks, and two thumbs up for an amazing career for Rask.

After being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs as the 21st pick in the 2005 draft, Tuukka was traded just under a year later in what is considered one of the worst trades in Maple Leafs franchise history. They traded G Andrew Raycroft for Rask thinking that they had another young goalie for the future, Justin Pogge, waiting in the minors. For those of you scrambling to look it up, yes, Pogge did make the NHL and play for the Leafs, but for a grand total of 7 games and had a 4.36 goals-against average. If the Leafs hadn’t traded Rask, who knows where we would be today. We assuredly would not be talking about Rask’s 104 postseason games played in a Bruins uniform.

The Leafs loss was the Bruins gain and Rask made his NHL debut in 2008. He wouldn’t get significant playing time for a few seasons however, because the Bruins had some guy named Tim Thomas in net. Ironically, Rask got his first significant playing time in 2010 when Thomas was dealing with a hip injury and began to show the team what he is capable of, finishing in the top tier of all the goalie awards and getting some recognition. Thomas and Rask was a formidable goalie tandem and brought the Stanley Cup home to Boston in 2011, although it was still clearly the Thomas-show as he dominated in the postseason allowing less than 2 goals per game and having a save percentage of .940. After protesting a visit to the White House to honor the championship, Thomas’ fan opinion began to slip and it was the beginning of the end for his time with the Bruins. The slip would eventually open the door for Rask to take control of the goaltending duties.

One year later, in February of 2013, Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders and the Rask era in Boston officially began. With Rask as the #1, the Bruins made a run at the Stanley Cup, beating the Maple Leafs in 7, then the Rangers in 5, then sweeping the Penguins. They ultimately couldn’t beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup, losing in 6 games. Rask was electric and allowed just 1.88 goals per game and had a career high .940 save percentage in 22 postseason games that season. The numbers mirrored Thomas’ Stanley Cup run and get the fanbase excited for the future. Despite being the runner-up, Rask had cemented his status as the #1 and proved that he could perform in the postseason.

In his first full season as the #1 goalie, Rask was an All-Star, won the Vezina trophy as the best goaltender in the league, and pushed the Tim Thomas era into the distant past. The Bruins were the best team in hockey in the 2013-2014 season and Rask was excellent in net, but their bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, handed the Bruins a demoralizing upset in 7 games in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Rask had a sub-2 goals against average in the postseason, but they couldn’t make another deep run. After that point, things were not as peachy for the Finnish goaltender. Rask played in a career-high 70 games in 2014-2015, but the Bruins missed out on the playoffs and a similar result after 64 games in net in 2015-2016, with a 2nd straight year without playoff hockey in Boston. Rask was still a very solid goaltender, but couldn’t quite reach the heights he had flashed in his first full season with the club, and struggled to repeat a sub-2 goals against average and above .930 save percentage.

Rask took the Bruins to the postseason for the next 5 straight seasons, but only sniffed the trophy once more in 2018-2019 when the Bruins lost to the St. Louis Blues in 7 games. That postseason was more of the vintage Rask we knew and loved, with a 2.02 goals against average and a .934 save percentage in his 24 games played (a career high in the postseason). Unfortunately, that would be Rask’s last real chance at a Stanley Cup. The 2019-2020 season saw the Bruins enter the playoffs in 1st place in the division, but with the COVID pandemic raging, the postseason was a completely different story. The Bruins were in the playoff bubble in Toronto and in the middle of dispatching the Carolina Hurricanes in 5 games when Rask opted out and left the team. He left the bubble to be with his family because of an emergency with his daughter. He unfortunately caught a lot of heat for the decision, but was doing what he felt was best for him and his family. The Bruins would go on to lose in 5 games to the Tampa Bay Lightening in the 2nd round and similar to the end of the Tim Thomas era, a segment of the fanbase began to sour on Rask.

In 2021, Rask was hampered by his hip injury all season, playing in just 24 regular season games and 11 postseason games. He wasn’t his old Rask-self and wasn’t nearly as effective in net in the regular or postseason and after a 5-game series win over the Washington Capitals, the Bruins once again fell in the 2nd round, this time in 6 games to the New York Islanders. After the season Rask would have hip surgery and after missing the first several months of the 2021-2022 season, would fail in his comeback bid this year and officially retire. The end-of-career fizzle for Rask is a complicated one to process, especially for those who were upset that he left his team in the middle of the playoffs, but there is no doubt that Rask had a significant impact on the Boston Bruins and his numbers tell the story. Rask sits as the franchise leader for goalies in games played (564), wins (308), saves (14,345), and almost tied in save percentage with Tim Thomas (.921).

My hat goes off to one of the more enjoyable goalies to watch over the last 10+ seasons. Rask kept the Bruins relevant in almost every season as the starting goaltender and had some amazing postseason performances. It’s a shame he didn’t win a Stanley Cup as a starting goalie, but that doesn’t take away from Rask’s legacy with the Bruins. He will forever be remembered as one of the best, if not the best, Boston Bruins goaltenders of all time. Kippis Tuukka!

Marchand’s Anger Costs Bruins Again

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. Brad Marchand got chippy and made an unnecessarily aggressive move toward an opponent. While some of Marchand’s past plays are questionable as to whether they deserve punishment, his actions on Tuesday were clear. With less than a minute left in the game, the Bruins were down 4-2 and Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry covered the puck to stop play. Naturally, Marchand was close by when Jarry appeared to say something to him. What was Marchand’s response? Take a freaking swing at the goalie landing him a career-long 6-game suspension thanks to his repeat offender status.

Marchand is a pest and for the most part, his gritty and aggressive play earn him high marks from Bruins fans (and distain for all other fan bases), but his 8th suspension and 2nd this season showed a complete lack of control and a severe lapse in judgement. The Bruins are already struggling a bit with injuries on the top line, missing Patrice Bergeron for a few games, so to put himself out of commission for a sizable stretch with a 6-game suspension is just terrible. The Bruins are fighting for position in the Atlantic Division and are falling further behind the 3rd place Toronto Maple Leafs, which will likely continue to happen without 2/3 of their top line. As a leader of the Bruins you have to be able to control yourself and not sacrifice the needs of the team because an opponent was jawing at you.

My patience for the antics are wearing thin, especially when they are selfish and easily avoidable like this one. Whether he chooses to be or not, Marchand is a leader and role model for younger players and he is a voice that others listen to in the locker room. As Bruce Cassidy put it, his “lack of discipline” is becoming more of a liability and is offsetting some of the incredible offensive play he’s been known for in his career. Every point matters and right now he’s not able to help the team secure points watching in street clothes.

The 13-year veteran is a mainstay winger on the first line for the Bruins, scoring 25+ goals in 7 of his last 8 seasons and 40+ assists in 5 consecutive seasons. He has 21 goals and 28 assists this season in 39 games and should finish with another impressive stat line (if he can stay on the ice). Obviously he is an incredibly important piece on this team, which is why the organization can deal with his antics, but it’s getting increasingly frustrating. Incidents like Tuesday night are uncalled for and should be avoidable. Do better Brad.

A New Look Boston Bruins

In a week filled with trades and signings across all sports, no New England team had a larger overhaul than the Boston Bruins. They made significant moves in all aspects of the roster, with only the perfection line going untouched in the forward group. Let’s take a closer look at each new addition (and subtraction) and the potential impact going forward.


In: Linus Ullmark, Troy Grosenick

Out: Tuukka Rask (for now), Daniel Vladar, Jaroslav Halak

The goalie situation is an interesting one for the Bruins. With Tuukka Rask out for 5-6 months after hip surgery and a free agent, they needed to make a move to sure up their net-minders. Although I was initially surprised by the Ullmark signing, it makes a lot of sense given that Jaroslav Halak was bumped down the roster by Jeremy Swayman and he is just 22 years old and has only had 10 games in net for the Bruins. Ullmark will be the #1 and give Swayman an opportunity to learn and grow behind a veteran. The big question mark is around whether the Bs will legitimately look at Rask as an option when he is healthy, but a lot can happen between now and then.


In: Taylor Hall (re-sign), Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, Samuel Asselin, Steven Fogarty

Out: David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

With a flurry of free agency day 1 moves, the Bs made some additions in the forward group, but not without a major loss as well. Re-signing Taylor Hall this past week was important and bringing in Foligno, Haula, and Nosek as depth guys makes sense, but news that David Krejci was going back to the Czech Republic and leaving a center vacancy on the 2nd line will hurt the Bs. Charlie Coyle is a candidate to step into that role or perhaps Jack Studnicka, but it definitely leaves some question marks in the 4-6 forward spots. The bottom-6 feels like it is improved with Foligno, Haula, and Nosek, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a forward or two is involved in a trade for a defenseman before the season begins.


In: Mike Reilly (re-sign), Derek Forbort, Tyler Lewington

Out: Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon

The d-group definitely needed some work after Kevan Miller‘s retirement and Jeremy Lauzon being selected in the expansion draft. They struggled at times last year and need to improve if they want to return to contender status, especially in the 2nd and 3rd pairings. The addition of Forbort will help, but I hope Don Sweeney is still working to see if their are opportunities on the trade market to improve this group overall. They could use another one or maybe two defensemen between now and the start of the season. A big issue to watch is cap space going forward.

Bruins Hot and Heavy on Kevin Shattenkirk

The Boston Bruins are in desperate need of top defensive help going into the 2016-2017 season. Of their top 4 d-men, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are 39 and 34 respectively and are both looking like time and injuries have slowed them down. Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller are all good players, but ideally aren’t your top D-pairing guys. A guy like Kevin Shattenkirk would instantly make the Bruins defense more formidable. 

Shattenkirk is a top 4 puck-moving defensemen who can leave a serious impression on a game. He collected 14 goals and 30 assists last season with the Blues in 72 games and had a career high in hits (82) and blocks (113). He is only 27-years, is signed through next season, and went to BU. He seems great, what’s the catch? The price-tag will be very hefty to get Shattenkirk in the black and gold uniform.