Bruins’ Tuukka Rask rivalling Tim Thomas’ 2011 Stanley Cup run

Watch as NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly present the Prince of Wales Trophy to the Boston Bruins.

Tuukka Rask has hoisted the Stanley Cup before. Remember, he was a member of the Boston Bruins club that won it all back in 2011.

However, this 2019 post-season run must feel infinitely more satisfying for the Finnish netminder, who blanked the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday to complete a sweep of the Eastern Conference Final.

Back in 2011 it was Tim Thomas who played unbelievable in the Bruins crease, finishing 16-9 with a .940 save percentage, 1.98 goals-against average and four shutouts.

Thomas earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP that year and believe it or not Rask’s numbers in 2019 are even more impressive.

Through 17 playoff starts this year, Rask is 12-5 with a .942 save percentage, 1.84 GAA and a pair of shutouts.

If Rask can maintain those numbers throughout the Stanley Cup Final – the Bruins will face the winner of the ongoing Sharks-Blues series – he’d go down as having one of the best playoff runs in recent memory.

He may not rival Jonathan Quick’s 2012 run when the Kings star went 16-4 with an insane .946 save percentage and 1.41 GAA — the best post-season goalie performance of the salary cap era — but he’s not too far off.

Bruins forward David Pastrnak, who was only 15 the last time the Bruins won the Cup, raved about his netminder.

“This guy’s unbelievable to be honest,” Pastrnak told Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas after Thursday’s win. “I don’t know how they do that. I’ve never seen anybody play like him and the whole playoffs, this guy’s just on another level.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy heaped on the praise when speaking to reporters at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., at his post-game availability.

“Tuukka’s been very consistent,” Cassidy said. “Usually, if you’re going to get on a roll, your goaltender’s going to have to win a game for you somewhere along the way or steal one for you. … He can’t have a bad night.”

The last “bad night” Rask had was his team’s meaningless regular-season finale against the Lightning in which he allowed five goals on 21 shots. Since then he has only allowed more than three goals on one occasion and that was a 6-4 victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 4 of that series – Rask happened to make 38 saves that game, by the way.

Not only has Rask been consistent, the 32-year-old has saved his best work for his team’s most important games.

Rask has only allowed one goal in the three series-deciding contests the Bruins have played this post-season.

He stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs – the team that drafted him in 2005 then traded him for Andrew Raycroft in 2006 – in the opening round. Raycroft, fittingly enough, was one of many viewers impressed with Rask’s performance Thursday.

When the Bruins had the chance to eliminate the Blue Jackets in the second-round he picked up a 39-save shutout. On Thursday he was only required to make 24 saves for his seventh career playoff shutout. He is now just one shutout away from tying Cheevers’s Bruins record of eight total playoff shutouts.

Rask did set a new Bruins franchise record by recording his third shutout in series-clinching games, a record he previously shared with Thomas and Cheevers.

It could be a tough ask for Rask to carry the momentum he currently has into the next round because the Bruins might have quite a bit of downtime depending on how long the Western Conference Final lasts.

“It’s so difficult to advance in the playoffs, let alone make it to the final,” Rask told reporters after the game. “We need to really enjoy this but realize we have a lot of work to do.”

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