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Is Tuukka Time expiring for the Boston Bruins? Not yet.


It wasn’t a swindle that matched the magnitude of the Boston Bruins acquisition of Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield from the Chicago Blackhawks for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte in May of 1967.

But when ranking the greatest heists in Black & Gold trade history, sending goalie Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goalie Tuukka Rask in June of 2006 has to rank up there with the most lopsided deals in Bruins annals.

In exchange for Raycroft, who has been out of the NHL since 2012, finishing his career with an overall record of 113-114-27, the Bruins received an eventual Vezina Trophy winning goalie, whose mask has ultimately emerged as the face of the franchise.

From the time he became Boston’s No. 1 goalie, Rask has provided the Bruins with a strong last line of defense. Despite receiving his share of criticism in recent years, Rask had compiled a regular season career record of 204-123-48 with 38 shutouts over his first 10 seasons in Boston.

Yet here we are nearly two months into his 11th campaign in this Hub of hockey and the most impressive numbers associated with Rask can be found on his pay stub.

With the calendar set to turn to December, Rask, who won the Vezina, given annually to the NHL’s best goalie in 2014 while finishing in the top-seven in Vezina voting two other years, has not played like the goalie who once stood front and center with the big-ticket netminders in hockey’s holiday display case.

This season, wins have been hard to come by for Rask, 30, who is in the midst of an eight year $56 million contract that runs through the 2020-21 season. Rask’s stats stick out like a bad tattoo at 3-8-2 with a 2.91 goals-against-average and .899 save-percentage. Leaving anyone who pledges allegiance to the Bruins to wonder if Tuukka Time in Boston is expiring.

While Rask has struggled, backup Anton Khudobin has thrived in the early going, posting a 7-0-2 record with a 2.22 GAA and .932 save percentage.

After a two-year postseason DNQ, the Bruins managed to stick their toe back in the NHL’s playoff pool last spring, losing in the first round to the Ottawa Senators. Rask was one of the major reasons for the Bruins’ success during the 2016-17 campaign, posting career highs in wins (37) and shutouts (8) while making 63 starts. So the one thing you didn’t think this edition of the Bruins would have to contend with is a possible goaltending controversy.

But unless Rask has a U-turn in fortune that’s the direction this goaltending puzzle is headed, especially if Khudobin continues to backbone the Bruins to wins. Khudobin was in net for four straight victories prior to Rask (32 saves) making his first start since November 15 in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning played the Bruins at the TD Garden Wednesday night and Rask got the call to be in net, to the surprise of many black-and-gold fans.

Khudobin, 31, who is making $1.2 million this season, has played for four NHL teams, including the Bruins, while never making more than 34 starts in a season. It’s great that Khudobin is playing well enough to compete with Rask for playing time. But he’s basically a career backup.

Sure Khudobin could become the second coming of Tim Thomas, who was 31 when he finally stuck in Boston for good and went on to win the Vezina twice and a Conn Smythe after leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. Does lightning ever strike the same hockey barn twice?

Rask is too talented not to get back to his puck-stopping winning ways. And he better because the feeling here is the Bruins will only be as good as Rask plays in net going forward.

Carmine Frongillo’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @cwfrongi

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