Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask’s great year just got even better. The NHL on Friday named Rask one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goalie, along with Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov.
Rask posted a 2.04 goals-against average (fourth in the league), and a .930 save percentage (second only to Minnesota’s Josh Harding’s .933 in 29 games). He had career-bests in shutouts with seven (leading the NHL), wins with 36, and games played at 58. It is the first Vezina nomination for the 27-year-old Finn.
Rask displayed the same calm control in the face of a cluster of reporters Friday at TD Garden that he has demonstrated on the ice.
“It’s a great honor to be nominated,’’ he said evenly. “It’s something that you don’t necessarily dream about, these individual awards, when you’re a kid – everybody knows we’re a team-first team, and this is something that comes after that.’’
“It’s something that comes after the Stanley Cup … if you get nominated, great, if not, doesn’t matter.”
The Bruins are in the midst of a first-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings, which they lead 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday, but Rask was willing to make a brief pause to accept praise.
“I feel honored to be nominated,’’ he said, “and happy to go to Vegas for the first time in my life.”
The NHL Awards will be presented June 24 in Las Vegas.
“To me, it's no-brainer,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s had such a good year; he’s been so good for us. He’s had an unbelievable season. He did well at the Olympics for his team, too, but this is based on the NHL and I just think he’s had a tremendous year. I would have been really disappointed had he not been one of the three nominees.”
The nomination was no surprise to Rask’s teammates, but welcome news.
“We knew that was coming,’’ said defenseman Kevan Miller with a grin. “That’s good.”
Rask’s confident presence has made the work easier for the rest of the Bruins.
“It’s more comfortable playing in front of him,’’ said forward Loui Eriksson. “He makes such good saves all the time. He always stays calm and he’s been unbelievable the whole year.”