By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NHL regular season is officially over. Up next: a brief warm-up, and then the grueling Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The league announced big plans for the summer and fall, hoping that if the coronavirus doesn’t disrupt everything, the league will indeed crown a champion this year.
For hockey fans, that’s great. For hockey players, well, it’ll hopefully be great too.
As for what that all means for the Bruins and their quest for the Cup, that was covered in a separate story. You can read that here. Regarding what the end of the regular season means for the Bruins in terms of regular-season awards, here you go.
–David Pastrnak officially has a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy. With 48 goals, Pastrnak tied Alex Ovechkin for most goals in the NHL this season. What an ascent for the 24-year-old Bruins star (who is signed through 2022-23).
To put it in perspective … Pastrnak becomes the first Bruin to ever win the award.
It’s quite the accomplishment for Pastrnak … but you also can’t help but feel a little cheated that you don’t get to see him finish out the regular season, just to see how far into the 50s he could have gotten.
For perspective, no Bruins skater has hit the 50-goal mark since Cam Neely’s preposterous 1993-94 season (50 goals in 49 games). No Bruin has scored more than 50 since 1990-91 (also Neely). And if Pastrnak could have gotten to the 55-goal mark, he’d be the first to do it since Neely in 1989-90 and Phil Esposito in 1972-73, tied for fifth most in Bruins history. (Espo owns the top four spots, with 76-goal, 68-goal, 66-goal, and 61-goal seasons. It was a different sport back then, you know.)
Alas, 48 goals in 70 games played for Pastrnak is quite the feat. Suffice it to say, selecting Pastrnak with the 25th pick in 2014 was an extremely considerate parting gift for Peter Chiarelli to leave the Bruins franchise.
–This tweet turned out to be prescient:
I swear to god if Pastrnak misses the Rocket Richard by one goal… pic.twitter.com/fKv2xUaWKj
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 17, 2020
Being a good teammate cost Pastrnak sole ownership of the Rocket Richard Trophy this year. But in the end, wasn’t the real trophy just the friends we made along the way??
(Marchand, you might recall, was struggling to find the back of the net at that time, having scored just two goals in the previous 23 games. That empty-netter would be the first of eight goals that he’d score in the 19 games that followed. Sometimes you have to give your teammate a cookie.)
–Tuukka Rask should be getting his second career Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender. This is always a third-rail topic in the city of Boston, but the Bruins netminder is actually quite good at his job.
Among goaltenders with at least 35 games played (roughly half the season), Rask ranked first in GAA (2.12), first in save percentage (.929). His lead in both categories was significant. His 2.12 GAA was almost a third-of-a-goal better than the second-place Carter Hart, at 2.41. And Rask’s save percentage was seven points better than second-place Connor Hellebuyck at .922. Rask was tied for having the second-most shutouts with five (Hellebuyck had six). Diving a little deeper, Rask had the best even strength save percentage at .939, 10 points better than second-place Phillip Grubauer’s .929.
The equalizing factors when voters decide on the Vezina winner will be games played. Rask has started just 41 games, while Hellebuyck has started 56. Despite that, looking at the numbers side-by-side, it’ll be hard to vote against Rask.
Tuukka Rask, 2019-20
41 starts, 26-8-6 record, 5 shutouts
.929 save percentage, .939 even strength save percentage
Connor Hellebuyck, 2019-20
56 starts, 31-21-5 record, 6 shutouts
.922 save percentage, .927 even strength save percentage
Andrei Vasilevskiy remains a fringe candidate, as voters may be swayed by his 35 wins. But the Russian netminder ranks seventh in save percentage and fourth in GAA, with just three shutouts.
Really, the award should be Tuukka’s. The challenge for the Finn will now be to get back into that zone in time to backstop his third deep playoff run.
–Rask and Jaroslav Halak also earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for having the fewest goals allowed in the league. It’s the first time a Bruins tandem has won the award since Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez combined for a 2.45 GAA. The only other Bruins tandem to win the award was Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin in 1989-90, when they combined for a 2.38 GAA.
Rask and Halak combined for a 2.38 GAA this year, matching the Moog-Lemelin duo from 30 years prior.
The real story there is that 1990 was 30 years ago. Doesn’t feel right. Seems wrong. Need somebody to fix that, pronto.