When Finland was able to upset the hosting Russian hockey team on Wednesday the Russian fans along with general hockey fans were more than surprised. The Finish team was lead to the stunning upset by veteran Temmu Sellane and 37 saves from Boston fan favorite Tukka Rask. In a game where Russia out shot the Fins in all three periods, Tukka Rask was consistently called into action, and remains as one of the main reasons the Finnish team has gold medal hopes.. With all the outstanding success that Tukka Rask has had over the past two seasons is it fair to say Tukka Rask ranks among the elite net minders in the NHL?
When mentioning the top goal tenders in the NHL the same several names have a tendency to arise. Names like Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, or some die hard Penguin fans may even say Marc-Andre Fleury, but are these goalies really any better than Tukka Rask, or is it just the big names? Don't get me wrong Tukka Rask continues to get more and more credit as an elite goalie in the NHL, he simply should just have more by now.
Entering the 2012-2013 season Tukka Rask was known as one of the best back up goal tenders in hockey but had a lot to prove as a starter, and thats exactly what he has done. Over the course of the 2012-2013 shortened season Rask finished the season third in save percentage and fourth in goals against average, ranking above household goalie names such as Lundqvist, Luongo, Backstrom, by large margins. In that same season Rask was able to better his stats in the playoffs posting an outrageous save percentage of 94 percent essentially carrying the Bruins to the Finals.
One might argue that these stats all come from a shortened season but Rask has been as good if not better in 2013-2014. In his 43 appearances this season Rask has posted an almost identical save percentage at .928 (.929 last season) and has only shown signs of getting better playing behind a young defense. Entering the Olympic break Tukka Rask ranks in the top five for save percentage and is once again is ahead of players like Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, and Ryan Miller.
So when you add up Rask's outrageous performances over the past two seasons, in the playoffs, and now leading the Finish team on what looks like a medal run Tukka Rask looks more like an elite goalie then the actual players that are labeled elite.
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