BOSTON — It’s a fun and catchy phrase since he assumed the role as the No. 1 netminder of the Boston Bruins a few times over the last four years:
“It’s Tuukka time!”
Well, now it’s really Tuukka time. No, it’s serious. Tuukka, as in Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, needs to be the team MVP going forward if the Bruins are to advance this postseason.
And that starts tonight against the New York Rangers and their version of “2011 Tim Thomas”in goal, Henrik Lundqvist.
While Rask and Lundqvist don’t actually face each other, this series in the end will come down to which one of these guys plays better (See Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning).
Watching Rask celebrate like a crazy man after the come-from-behind win on Monday night against the Leafs, one can understand the pressure he has been under this season.
The ghost of Tim Thomas — primarily the 2010-11 version — has been everywhere.
If Rask played well this past season, well, it was “only” the regular season. If he let a few “softies” by him, he was “not a No. 1 goalie.”
Of course, we haven’t let him forget the blown 3-0 series lead and 3-0 in-game lead in Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 playoffs.
But all of that stuff is nonsense. Statistically speaking, Rask is very good. In fact, Rask, 26, is very comparable to Lundqvist, 31, who is called the best goalie in the world.
Rask is 66-45-17 with a .927 saves percentage and 2.15 goals against.
Lundqvist, who has never had to compete with a “Tim Thomas,” is 276-171-57, .920 and 2.25 over his career.
Beating the Rangers won’t be easy. In fact, it could be — in fact, it should be — argued that Rask will not have the defense or offense in front of him that Thomas had.