Being a Bruins fan is emotionally exhausting.
After getting hot and going on a four-game winning streak with Anton Khudobin in net, the Bruins lost to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday by a score of 4-2.
They looked sloppy and there’s not a whole lot of other things more painful than trying to watch the B’s play catch-up. But the day before the game, Bruce Cassidy announced Tuukka Rask, not Khudobin, would get the start between the pipes.
We all knew Rask would get the start again eventually. And maybe Cassidy was thinking a start against a team with eight wins at the time would be the perfect time to start Rask – but I’m just a big advocate for starting the hot goalie until he fizzles out – even if that meant starting him for six or seven-straight games.
In the four games Khudobin and the Bruins won, the backup goalie surrendered seven goals. To put that into perspective, Rask gave up eight goals in back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche.
The goalie situation has been a roller coaster this season for the Bruins. Rask, who has proven he can be solid as a number one goaltender, has been anything but spectacular – and it’s infuriating.
So far this season, Rask is 3-8-2 with a 2.91 goals-against-average and an .899 save percentage. He has not had a losing season since the 2010-11 season where he finished 11-14-2.
Rask didn’t play all that bad on Sunday – allowing three goals on 35 shots – but he also hasn’t won a game since Nov. 6.
Khudobin on the other hand is 7-0-2 with a 2.22 GAA and a .932 save percentage. He’s undefeated in regulation, won four-straight games and the team just flat out performs better when their backup goalie is in net.
If I was Cassidy, I would have continued to play Khudobin until he had a bad game. I know he can’t play all the time and Rask is the starting goalie – but I’m also a firm believer in riding the hot hand – especially how the team seemed to be clicking during their four-game winning streak.
The team needs points. They’re fourth in the Atlantic Division, just one point behind the Detroit Red Wings. If it’s clear this team had been playing better over that four-game stretch, why risk it?
In front of Khudobin, the Bruins blocked shots, battled with some serious intensity and had the urgency to rush the net and most importantly: get that puck into the net.
Obviously, with this kind of different play in front of their goalies comes plenty of speculation from: they’re playing sloppier in front of Rask on purpose to Rask is unhappy here to everything else in between.
I’m going to rule out the intentional sloppy play but I won’t rule out that Rask is unhappy in Boston. He’s told the media he won’t talk about the team play, but instead only talk about goaltending.
I’ll revert back to what I tweeted a few weeks ago about the Bruins possibly riding the hot-handed goalie to open up a trade for Rask (man was Twitter pissed off at me for that one). But hear me out: maybe he is indeed being shopped around and he knows this. Maybe the team knows this. Maybe Rask is pissed off and his attitude has become a cancer in the locker room.
If he has a poor attitude in the locker room, that could very easily translate to the ice, leaving the players to feel unmotivated. It could be a stretch, but who really knows?
Cassidy has yet to name the starting goalie for Wednesday night’s bout against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But if he names Khudobin the starter, expect to see the aggressive Bruins we saw during their four-game winning streak.
Written by: Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren)