In case it had not been made painfully evident by other publications, the St. Louis Blues are going to have trouble scoring against Boston. Not only are the Bruins a solid defensive team, but their goaltender is one of the hottest in the league right now.
Tuukka Rask currently leads the NHL playoffs in several categories. By no means is he unbeatable, but he has appeared to be just that of late.
Rask is the leader in shutouts with two thus far. That’s not incredibly high, but when you consider that’s two in 17 games, that’s a decent average.
Speaking of average, Rask leads the playoffs in goals against average. Rask is posting a minuscule 1.84 goals against.
You could chalk up his top-notch stats to good defense, right? Not so fast. Rask leads the playoffs in saves made heading into the final with 517. Just to put that in perspective, Jordan Binnington made 748 saves in the entire regular season.
Rask is also the leader in save percentage. Right now he has an unbelievable .942 save percentage. That basically means he is stopping 94% of the shots he faces.
The thing that is worrisome for the Blues about Rask is he has shown an ability to stop what the Blues have been good at. Rask is good at spotting shots through traffic, so getting the puck on goal from the point might not produce as much offense as it has with other goaltenders.
In the last round, the Blues were all but guaranteed a goal if they went high-glove. Finnish goaltenders, such as Rask, are notoriously good with their glove hand.
His rebound control has been pretty solid too. The Blues have a habit of being a one and done team, so if rebounds are not even available, that means even less offensive chances.
As hot as the Blues have been as a team is how hot Rask has been in net for the Bruins.
But as hopeless as it seems, Rask is not unbeatable. Things can change in a heartbeat in the playoffs.
Rask is definitely better than Martin Jones, but all we heard on a national scale was how good Jones was. The Blues lit him up.
Ben Bishop is one of the best in the league. The Blues managed to get pucks past him.
We also forget that Rask was losing favor in Bean Town. It might never have entered the head of the coach, but there were those in Boston that were considering keeping Jaroslav Halak in goal since he did such a good job filling in while Rask was out.
Rask only had a .912 save percentage in the regular season, so he can be beat. The Blues will need to do what they did against Bishop. St. Louis needs to bump Rask a little bit and get under his skin – within the rules of course. Rask has shown, unlike Binnington, he can get frustrated and show it openly. That will be key.