By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It's no secret that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has become a lightning rod for criticism in Boston.
Rask himself doesn't think the scrutiny he receives from fans is unfair. But it doesn't mean that he's listening to it.
"Boston fans are passionate," Rask offered at Wednesday's locker clean-out day at Warrior Ice Arena. "I’m a fan of sports, too, and when I watch I criticize players if I see that they suck, so it’s no different. It’s part of the job. I don’t really know what’s being said or what’s not because I don’t follow, and it’s probably better off that way. But it doesn’t bother me."
In defense of those that criticize the $7 million a year man, Rask's season was as up-and-down as they come.
The 31-year-old nearly lost his starting gig to backup Anton Khudobin thanks to a downright horrendous opening month, but responded with wins in 31 of his final 40 starts along with a 2.19 goals against average and .923 save percentage over that span. By the year's end, Rask had his best save percentage in three seasons and in an effort to preserve Rask's best play for the postseason logged the fewest regular-season minutes since becoming the Black and Gold's full-time starter in 2013.
"I felt great the whole season," said Rask. "I think it was a great luxury we had this year, playing time with [Khudobin], he had a great year. You know, I felt good, so it was probably the best I’ve felt."
But that up-and-down trend continued in the postseason, as Rask had an opening round performance featuring four wins and an .899 save performance (the fifth-worst among qualifying goaltenders) in seven games against the Maple Leafs before a second round that saw him truly give the Bruins a chance in every game of a five-game series loss to the Lightning.
The finish won't do anything to stop people from harping on every single mistake Rask makes in a Boston net (nothing besides a Stanley Cup will validate his play, it seems), but it won't change how Rask approaches his game.
"People can say whatever they feel like or whatever they want. They’re fans," Rask said. "But it won’t affect my job."
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.