By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
It doesn’t matter if you’re an ardent Tuukka Rask defender or a passionate Tuukka Rask hater, there was something there for you in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Rask’s Game 7 performance was an all-too-fitting encapsulation of his career. If you’re looking for 60 minutes that epitomizes the Tuukka Rask experience, last night was it.
He wasn’t great, he wasn’t awful, and he wasn’t the reason the Bruins won or lost. He was just kind of there on a night where the Bruins needed him to be more than there.
The B’s needed him to be the goalie that was on the verge of winning the Conn Smythe. He wasn’t.
He got them there, but he couldn’t help them win it. What could sum up Rask better than that?
The haters can hold him accountable and the Boohoo Tuukka Crew can defend him until the ends of the earth, and both will be right. Rask is one of the more polarizing on-field/ice/court athletes in recent Boston sports memory, and last night once again showed us why.
For years, Rask haters have called into question Tuukka’s ability to win the big game. They have said he can’t steal games when it’s all on the line. They were proven right again.
The Rask supporters, meanwhile, are always quick to point the blame at the players in front of the goalie. To those fans, Rask can do little wrong. They’re right too when they say the Bruins did nothing to help their netminder win the biggest game of their lives.
Realistically, what was Tuukka supposed to do with the Blues skating into the slot wide open all night long? It’s not fair to expect your goalie to make saves every time you screw up in front of him.
That being said, how can anyone justify allowing two goals on the first four shots of the game? How about four goals on 20 shots?
The Bruins needed a stop in those moments. Jordan Binnington made them when he needed to, Tuukka Rask didn’t, and the Blues ended up hoisting the Stanley Cup.
To say that the Bruins hung their goalie out to dry is true. To say that the Bruins needed Rask to be better is also true.
Pick a side, neither side is wrong.
His supporters can legitimately defend him and his detractors can legitimately criticize him. The beat goes on. Nothing has changed.
In the end, both sides are still right about Tuukka Rask.
You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.