Hadfield: Fair or not, Tuukka under the Hub microscope

 

Boston fans won't be fully comfortable with Tuukka in net until he wins a playoff series.
Boston fans won’t be fully comfortable with Tuukka in net until he wins a playoff series.

In Denver, a defensive back, named Tony Carter, badly misreads Jacoby Jones’ speed. Joe Flacco buys some time then heaves a ball nearly 80 yards in the air, miraculously hooking up with Jones, who is streaking free down the right sideline all alone. The touchdown sends the Divisional Round playoff game into overtime. With new life, the Ravens defeat Denver in extra time. Two games later, Flacco is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. During the coronation, we forget Carter’s mishap. Suddenly, Flacco is forever elite. It’s etched on his imaginary Legacy Tomb and everything, I swear.

Picture an alternate universe where Carter never curiously slows up and the touchdown never happens. Flacco is still the same guy with the same skill, but to us, he’s not. This exercise may seem silly, but in sports, you’re guilty until proven innocent. Mitigating circumstances, like Carter’s misjudgment, are never taken into account.

All this leads me to the biggest beneficiary of the NHL lockout: Bruins goalie, Tuukka Rask. The “Tuukka Time” moniker gained popularity during the 2009-10 campaign, when Rask briefly usurped Tim Thomas by season’s end to lead the Bruins into the playoffs. After Rask played a part in the B’s infamous collapse to the Flyers in the second round that year, Thomas reestablished his spot as the team’s goaltender, and performed at a superhero level en route to Boston’s first Stanley Cup win in 39 years in 2011.

Thomas is gone now due to an unprecedented public relations disaster last year – a different story for a different day – and Rask has admirably stepped up in his absence. He’s currently third in the NHL with 14 wins and his 1.92 Goals Against Average ranks third among goalies with at least 15 starts.

How we digest sports has become so analytical, yet, sometimes, we still catch ourselves falling into the same anecdotal tropes that we relied on during the pre-“Moneyball” era. Vague immeasurable designations, like being “clutch” or “elite,” still permeate everyday conversations on Internet message boards, columns (yes, I’m guilty too), and, of course, sports talk radio.

Rask can rack up great statistics, wow us by making the occasional highlight reel save, say all the right things, and maybe even win the Vezina Trophy. Still, none of it will matter. The postseason looms large for Rask, who is just 26-years-old, and the shortened regular season is simply a brief precursor. And fair or not – I tend to think it’s not – they’ll be questions about Rask entering the playoffs. Lack of empirical evidence and sample size doesn’t lead to any benefit of the doubt, it just leads to doubt. It appears, these days, “Tuukka Time,” has become biding time.

Ryan Hadfield is a columnist for Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @Hadfield__



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…