Perhaps nothing will rile up Bruins fans quite like goaltending. Despite being blessed with solid and at times elite goaltending for the last decade Bruins fans have found ways to complain about the position, from its titular starter and ineffective backups. Yet this year the Bruins have been lucky to once again have one of the NHL's best goaltending tandems. Tuukka Rask has been rock solid since another rough start and veteran Jaroslav Halak has been everything and then some. It's very similar to last year, with perhaps the difference being the stark split between the fanbase on who is better and who should start. Whether you're "Team Tuukka" or "Team Jaro" I would encourage Bruins fans to just sit back and enjoy the show because you could be fans of the Blues (.892 team save percentage) or Flyers (they've used seven different goalies this season). The Bruins meanwhile have the best team save percentage (.918) and that is a large reason why they are ninth in the overall league standings.
Tuukka Rask: A-
Tuukka Rask began his season in dubious fashion. He was lit up on opening night, a nationally televised game against the defending champion Capitals. The Bruins as a whole looked overwhelmed and it didn't help that their starter got pumped for five goals on 19 shots. Rask started his season 2-2 with an .875 save percentage, not good by any stretch. Since then though Tuukka has completely turned it around with a .930 save percentage over his last 18 games played. After returning from his leave of absence Rask has done well to silence his doubters going 8-4-2 with a 2.14 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
Rask is 12-8-2 through 22 appearances, 21 of them starts, this season with a 2.43 GAA (8th) and a .920 save percentage (14th) His .931 5v5 save percentage is also his highest mark since the 2014-15 season. He's also 4-0-0 in his last four shots allowing just five goals over that span. Rask's most recent outing, a shutout over the Minnesota Wild, was his 250th career win, placing him just three wins back from passing Bruins' legend Tiny Thompson for the franchise's all time leader in wins.
Rask has turned it around after a tough opening four games. With a virtual split of the games played so far between him and Halak the rotation has seemed to benefit both goalies who've both looked rested and have gotten themselves on individual runs of success.
Jaroslav Halak: A+
That's Vezina Trophy contender Jaroslav Halak to you. One of the league's smallest goalies has been an absolute house for the Bruins. When Don Sweeney picked up Halak as the heir to Anton Khudobin some people had doubts due to his numbers with the Islanders with a better team in front of him Halak can succeed, and succeed he has. Halak is amidst his best season in his 13 year career. He went 8-3-2 through October and November with a 1.93 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
Halak kept the Bruins afloat through injuries to the back-end and Rask's early season struggles/off ice leave from the team. His numbers have taken a dip over the months with his save percentage dropping from .947, .928 and .910 from October through December. He's made just one start in 2019 picking up the win while giving up four goals on 37 shots (.892)
But despite this dip there can be no doubt over Halak's importance. His .940 save percentage against the Atlantic Division is outstanding as is his 9-1-0 record at TD Garden. Halak has overall been brilliant as a backup and starter when called upon. He's 13-6-2 through 23 appearances (22 starts) and his 2.36 GAA and .926 save percentage put him at fifth and third in the league rankings. Oh, and he also has three points on the year too, not bad for a former 9th round pick.
He may have been snubbed of an all-star spot but make no mistake if Halak keeps this play up throughout 2019 he could find himself receiving Vezina votes come the end of the season he's been that good. He's picked up wins for the Bruins in timely spots and for 2.75 million dollars, that's worth every penny.
Photo Credit: (Aaron Doster- USA TODAY Sports)