It may have taken almost two months into the Bruins to say this, but Tuukka Rask got his first shutout of the season on Saturday and looked pretty damn good in net.
I’ll admit, I felt much better about him being in net against the Philadelphia Flyers than I did when he was in against the Tampa Bay Lightning – and felt even more confident after Rask won against the Lightning.
And now, it seems as if the Bruins have a (good) problem on their hands in having two goalies who are playing well between the pipes.
After an abysmal start to the season, Rask collected back-to-back wins and has allowed just two goals on 49 shots – and that includes a 28-save shutout before Monday night’s game. His save percentage is finally above .900 and Rask is starting to look confident in net.
So what do the Bruins do?
Anton Khudobin, who has been solid all season, is 7-0-2 on the season with four-straight wins. His save percentage sits at .932 and got the call in net against the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
After not playing for nearly two weeks, Khudobin gave up four goals and was pulled in the second for Rask. He gave up just one goal in the 5-3 loss and made some flashy saves – but much like the defense had done for Rask so many times this season, it was as if they forgot to show up for Khudobin.
Now I’m not making excuses. Khudobin played poorly despite making some flashy saves himself. It could have been from not playing for nearly two weeks or it could have been because the defense looked sloppy and they couldn’t put the puck on net until the 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy got it started for the team.
Or maybe Khudobin is just meant to be a backup goalie who will get hot and cold throughout the season. I will still stand by what I said when Dobby was in the midst of a four-game winning streak that Bruce Cassidy should have stuck with the backup until he had a bad start.
After Rask put together consecutive solid starts which included a shutout, it’s clear that Cassidy should stick with Rask until he begins to decline again.
This may turn out to be a good problem to have. The two goalies can balance each other out and bail the other out in a situation where the other gives up four-plus goals in a start.
Obviously, you don’t want Rask to be overplayed because he has been severely overplayed throughout his career as a starter in Boston. But maybe…just maybe, Khudobin is blooming (yes, at 31-years-old) into the backup goalie Rask has so desperately needed over the last few seasons.
It’s going to be an interesting next few games for the Bruins – it’s going to be an interesting season, really. But Cassidy should stick with the hot-handed goalie – and right now that’s Rask.
If it gets to a point where he’s playing exceptionally well for five or six games straight, then bench him for a game to give him some rest.
He obviously can’t play every single game. But Khudobin can’t be benched every single game either.
The patience of Bruins fans has been severely tested so far this season. So buckle up because it’s about to get a hell of a lot more interesting if Rask keeps this type of play up.
Written by: Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren)