To mark the end of the regular season, NHL.com is running its fifth and final installment in the Trophy Tracker series. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy, the award given annually to the goalie adjudged to be the best at his position as selected by the NHL general managers.
Tuukka Rask turned 33 on March 10, but the Boston Bruins goalie isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Rask once again was among the best at his position this season, going 26-8-6 in 41 games. He led the NHL with a 2.12 goals-against average, was second with a .929 save percentage (minimum 20 games played), and was tied for second with five shutouts.
He also was second in even-strength save percentage (.939) and allowed the fewest goals (85) among the 22 goalies to play at least 40 games this season, 10 fewer than second-place Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers.
A panel of 18 NHL.com writers voted for the winner of the Vezina Trophy at the end of the regular season. The consensus was Rask was the League’s top goalie by a large margin; he received 80 points and 10 first-place votes. Connor Hellebuyck (68 points) of the Winnipeg Jets and Andrei Vasilevskiy (56 points) of the Tampa Bay Lightning each received four first-place votes.
From Jan. 2 until the season was paused because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus on March 12, Rask went 11-4-1 with a 1.84 GAA and a .938 save percentage in 17 games. His play helped Boston win the Atlantic Division and the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the best record in the League; the Bruins finished 44-14-12 with 100 points. It was the third time they won the award (1989-90, 2013-14).
Rask said he’s hoping to put an exclamation point on this season with a Stanley Cup championship. Rask was the backup to Tim Thomas when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011. He was the starter when Boston lost in the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and the St. Louis Blues in 2019.
“I just try to do my job as good as I can every night, give us a chance to win, and then what comes with that, it comes,” Rask said. “But maybe in the future after I retire and look back, you kind of appreciate yourself more, see what you did.
“This city is known for winning championships and your success is measured by winning championships, and I’ve gotten to the Finals with the team twice as a playing goalie. Didn’t win, but I think it’s still a great accomplishment to reach that point, to go to the Finals. Obviously it would be nice to be known as a champion in those years, but it didn’t happen. We just have to live with that. I think I’ve played a good career so far, and hopefully there’s some more years left and even maybe a championship in the future.”
The Bruins also won the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals this season. Rask and Jaroslav Halak (18-6-6, 2.39 GAA, .919 save percentage in 31 games) combined for eight shutouts and helped Boston allow 167 goals, a League-low 2.39 per game. It’s the third time the Bruins have won the Jennings Trophy (1989-90, 2008-09) and the first time for Rask. Halak won it in 2011-12 with the St. Louis Blues.
“[Tuukka’s] proven that he’s one of the top goalies in the League,” Halak said. “He competes in every game, in every practice. He wants to win. That’s the ultimate goal. Obviously we are on the same team, he wants to play [and] if I said I didn’t want to play I would probably be lying. I also want to play, but at the same time we are a team and we want to win as a team.”
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, 80 points (10 first-place votes); Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets, 68 points (four first-place votes); Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, 56 points (four first-place votes); Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars, 26 points; Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues, 15 points; Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets, 8 points; Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 points; Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks, 5 points; Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 points; Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers, 1 point; Pavel Francouz, Colorado Avalanche, 1 point.
NHL.com staff writers Amalie Benjamin and Rob Reese contributed to this story