It is time for a change in Boston.
I’m obviously not talking about the Boston Celtics, since they are the hottest team in the NBA and just knocked off the defending champs on Thursday night.
I’m talking about the lowly Bruins, who are fighting to stay relevant in both the standings and the minds of Boston fans going nuts for the Green Team.
No, the Bruins don’t need to change coaches, since Bruce Cassidy has no control over the health of his roster. And they don’t need to be switching players on lines, because there just aren’t enough good/healthy players to jumble up lines.
The Bruins need to make a change at goaltender, and it needs to happen immediately.
Anton Khudobin should at least be splitting time right down the middle with Tuukka Rask, and according to the team’s results in the first 18 games of the season, that may still be too much Tuukka Time for the B’s to succeed.
They currently stand at 7-7-4 after a surprising 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, which snapped a four-game losing streak. You wanna take a quick stab at who was in net for the B’s?
Khudobin hasn’t lost in regulation this season. That would be an even more astonishing feat if he had actually played in more than a third of the team’s contests, and that was only padded due to Rask missing time (just like everyone else on this roster) with a concussion in late October, which led to three consecutive starts from the backup. And guess how the B’s did in those three starts?
Oh yeah, in those three games (October 19th to 26th), the Bruins earned five of a possible six points. The victory over the Canucks on the 19th started a streak of six consecutive games in which the Bruins earned at least a point, which was unfortunately just followed by a 1-4-1 clip that mercifully ended on Thursday night.
Khudobin has been one of the few bright spots on a Bruins team that has been ravaged by injuries and inconsistent play this season. He is 4-0-2 with a 2.35 GAA and .928 save percentage. That places him ninth in the league in GAA and tied for seventh in save percentage. Tuukka Rask is 3-7-2 this year with a 2.89 GAA and a .897 save percentage, which ranks him 22nd in GAA and 33rd in save percentage.
I know that stats don’t always show the real truth, but it’s hard to argue the fact that the Bruins are a much better team when Tuukka Time comes to a complete halt. The B’s have eight points in the 12 games that Rask has started, and ten points in the six games that Khudobin has been between the pipes.
That should be a clear enough sign that Khudobin needs to play more, especially since Boston clearly needs to make a run in the next few weeks in order to get back into playoff contention and in relevancy to local hockey fans. This team is so frustrating that even the most hardcore fans wouldn’t be faulted if they jumped ship to watch some Celtics games.
Boston is just three points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but just two out of the 15 other teams in the East have fewer points than the Bruins. And only the lowly 3-15-3 Arizona Coyotes have a worse winning percentage over the last 10 games than the Bruins do even after that win in Los Angeles.
Boston is just 3-4-3 in their last ten contests, with Khudobin making just two of those ten starts.
TWO STARTS. How in the hell is the best goalie on the team making just two starts during a busy part of the schedule?
I get that it’s a small sample size, and that your starting goaltender has one of the biggest/worst contracts in the NHL, but it’s like the Bruins don’t actually want to succeed right now. We’ve thought for the past couple seasons that Rask was overworked, due in large part to having little to no competent backups behind him. This overworking led to some rough play down the stretch from your top netminder, and the B’s needed a late-season burst last year to avoid missing the playoffs for the third straight season.
But the Bruins clearly have a solid backup who is playing really well, and the team responds with some of their best and most consistent efforts in the all-too-rare occasions that Khudobin draws the nod in net. If the B’s are serious about being a playoff contender, Khudobin should be seeing the ice on a regular basis right now.
Boston desperately needs points. They have played nearly a quarter of the games on their schedule, and have yet to win consecutive contests this season. The standings at Thanksgiving are normally a strong indication of who will make the postseason, as teams in a playoff spot on Turkey Day make the postseason nearly 75% of the time. Obviously, with the injuries that have piled up, the Bruins could still get on a run if/when they get fully healthy (can that please happen soon?), but the best way to limit any further damage is to play the hot hand in net more often.
Especially more than twice every ten games.
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)