By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
As one of the more positionally sound goaltenders in the NHL, it’s not often that Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask needs to put on his cape and go flying across the crease with a diving, acrobatic save like Timmy Thomas.
Rask will be the first person to admit as much.
But the 32-year-old Rask did exactly that in Thursday’s contest against the Sabres, with a Save of the Year candidate stop on Buffalo’s Evan Rodrigues in the third period of a 3-2 victory at TD Garden.
Losing his stick as a result of a net-front battle between Charlie McAvoy and Conor Sheary, Rask slide to his right as a sliding Rodrigues hammered a puck on goal. It seemed like a sure-goal, but a desperate Rask was able to get the palm of his blocker on the puck, smothering the shot under him and out of the cage for what would have been Buffalo’s second goal of the evening.
“I’m not making a reactionary save at that point,” Rask, who has now rattled off victories in three straight contests, admitted. “You’re in scramble mode, and luckily I was in a position where I could throw myself in there.”
“You kind of don’t know what happened there, to be honest with you,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy offered after the victory. “That was a Dominik Hasek save. For you guys, young people out there, he was an old goalie in the league, very acrobatic. And that’s what it was. I think everyone does get up and realize that we should have been scored on, really, I mean, we should have. So it does give you a boost. Big plays give you a boost, right? Saves are a part of that, and it sure did for us.”
(Note: We’re getting to the point in our lives where Dominik Hasek is considered an ‘old goalie,’ which is nothing short of depressing. Time is our greatest gift and curse, our pets don’t live long enough, and life is fleeting.)
Rodrigues said it could be the Save of the Year. Bruins winger Brad Marchand (two goals in the victory) echoed that, giving it the nod as the SotY over the third-period stop Marc-Andre Fleury made in Tuesday’s win over the Maple Leafs.
Rask took a more modest approach, saying that it “could be,” but noting that he was more impressed with the rarity of that kind of save. “I don’t think I’ve ever made a save like that with my blocker,” said Rask.
It was just one of many gigantic stops Rask made in what finished as a 36-save effort, earning high praise from Cassidy.
“Superb,” Cassidy said of Rask’s performance. “He was our best player, we needed every save, obviously. Not much else to say other than we didn’t do a very good job right in front of him.”
Rask is off to a sizzling start in 2019-20, with 10 wins and a .931 save percentage through 14 starts.