By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Like a quarterback or a starting pitcher, a goaltender in hockey tends to get a disproportionate level of credit for victories and an even more disproportionate level of blame for losses. It comes with the territory.
Now, if you take that reality, and you add in a $7 million average annual salary, and you factor in the element of following up the tenure of the first goalie in franchise history to win two Vezinas and a Stanley Cup since the early ’40s, and you’ve got a pretty unique situation for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
The 31-year-old Finnish netminder did not have a career year by any means, and he hasn’t been an All-Star since 2014. He’d likely be the first to tell you that he’d like to be better. But still, the level of blame and disgust that is sent his way can be … a bit much.
Rask was asked about that level of criticism on Wednesday, when he spoke to reporters at the team’s break-up day. Rask not only said that getting criticized is part of the business — he said he likes to do the same with other athletes, too.
“Sure, Boston fans are passionate — every sport. You know, I’m a fan of sports. I criticize players if I see that they suck, so it’s no different,” Rask said. “It’s part of the job.”
While Rask didn’t offer his own personal list of underachieving athletes, he was asked if the criticism of him is fair.
“I don’t really know what’s being said and whatnot because I don’t follow it. It’s probably better off that way, but you know, it doesn’t bother me,” Rask said. “You know, people can say whatever they feel like, whatever they want, you know. They’re fans, so it won’t affect my job.”
Rask posted a .917 save percentage (ranking 10th among goalies with at least 50 starts) and 2.36 goals-against average (ranking third) in 2017-18 while compiling a 34-14-5 record. He also ranked eighth in even-strength save percentage (.924) and fifth in power-play save percentage (.895). In the postseason, he posted a .903 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA, ranking last and second-to-last (respectively) among goaltenders to play through two rounds.
Rask signed his eight-year, $56 million contract with the Bruins following the 2013 season. That year, he posted a .929 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA in the regular season before improving to a .940 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA in the playoffs. Since signing the deal, he’s compiled a .920 save percentage and 2.30 GAA in 311 regular-season games. He’s signed through the 2020-21 season.