Sunday Skate: Is Tuukka Rask the Vezina Trophy favorite?

WEEI
March 09, 2020 - 8:42 am

Tuukka Rask is at or near the top of every major statistic for goalies this season.

But will the Bruins goalie win the Vezina Trophy for a second time in his career?

Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports returned from his one-week hiatus to join Sunday Skate co-hosts Ken Laird and Matt Kalman for the first two-hour episode of the season this week, and they pondered who the competition is for Rask to win the trophy for best goaltender this season.

Laird pointed out that FanDuel Sportsbook had Rask as the favorite for the Vezina at +115, ahead of Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Blackburn quickly made the case for Hellebuyck:

“Save percentage is a big one. But I think for Hellebuyck you have to look deeper than save percentage. He plays behind one of the worst defenses in the league, they give up a ton of high-danger chances. He leads the league in goals saved above average.”

“Winnipeg is in the playoff picture right now and it’s simply because Connor Hellebuyck has been unbelievable this year. And his workload is a lot bigger than Tuukka’s, he’s been a workhorse goalie.”

Kalman, though, wasn’t ready to give Hellebuyck the Vezina.

“I’m not knocking Hellebuyck, but I don’t want to reward a guy because his team stinks,” Kalman said. “I also don’t want to reward a guy because he plays more in an era where we see the successful teams go with two goalies.”

Blackburn the concluded his argument while Laird looked up the useless stat of goalie wins.

“I think at the end of the day you have to give it to the guy that’s played the best,” Blackburn said. “And I think all things considered, pound for pound, Hellebuyck has played the best because of what’s in front of him and the chances that he faces and the saves that he’s making on a nightly basis and the workload that he’s facing. Not only season-long, but on a nightly basis, he’s getting pummeled because his defense stinks and he’s still keeping this team in it.”

There was a lot to get to and a lot of time to do it after the Bruins split two games with the Lightning and beat the Florida Panthers.

The guys dissected what they learned from the two Bruins-Lightning games, wondered if the Bruins are tough enough after the penalty-filled second game with the Lightning and went over the Evgenii Dadonov elbow on Brandon Carlo from the Florida game.

Laird also called out Ondrej Kase as not good enough to play in the Bruins’ top six after just five games and Kalman talked about his written piece on Jaroslav Halak’s uncertain future with the Bruins.

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