How Tuukka Rask Re-Established Himself as an Elite Goalie

December 15th, 2015 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »

A superficial glance at Tuukka Rask’s numbers shows an average—perhaps even slightly below-average—goaltender. After all, he’s just a single game over .500 (11-7-3 record) on the season and his .912 save percentage is nothing to write home about.

What a superficial glance doesn’t show is that Rask hasn’t been a consistently mediocre starter. Instead, his 22 games this season split into three basic periods: a horrific start, a reasonable recovery and, finally, a return to the elite-level play that has characterized the majority of his NHL career.

It is amazing how one bad five-game run can sink a goalie’s numbers in the early season. That stretch represents less than a quarter of his games played but more than 40 percent of the goals he’s allowed. As a result, despite very strong work in the 16 games since, his overall numbers still haven’t recovered.

His game, though, is back to where it needs to be. Rask’s early struggles weren’t entirely on him—the defensive group in front of him had some very real challenges—but he wasn’t th ...

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