Two U’s, Two K’s, Two-Straight Games on the Bench for Tuukka Rask

The Celtics have won 16-straight games.

The Patriots have won six-straight games and are tied for the best record in the AFC at 8-2.

And the Boston Bruins have finally won two-straight games for the first time this season.

It’s been a very frustrating season thus far to say the least. Between injuries and sloppy play, the Bruins have been almost unwatchable.

I was not very optimistic as they headed into their west coast road trip – especially going up against teams like the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks. However, those were the two teams they beat after losing to the Anaheim Ducks.

It was a team without Brad Marchand, Anders Bjork, David Krejci for one of those games and David Backes – but the one major common denominator in the B’s two wins was that Anton Khudobin was between the pipes.

I know this topic has essentially been gone over each and every week since the season began, but it’s painfully clear this team plays better in front of their backup netminder. As it stands, Bruce Cassidy has not made a decision as to who will be in net come Wednesday when the Bruins play the New Jersey Devils.

One thing is for certain: Cassidy should ride the hot hand that is Khudobin and let him get the start because he’s earned it.

He’s been the better goalie all season posting a 5-0-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against-average and a .935 save percentage. He’s helping the Bruins win games and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be getting the start in net until he has a bad start.

It’s not that I think Tuukka Rask is a bad goalie or should lose his job as the number one goalie for the team – but he is clearly not playing up to his potential and what we know he is capable of. Whether that is due to an underlying injury we don’t know about or his personal feelings towards the team, Rask not starting for three-straight games should absolutely light a fire under him.

With numbers like 3-7-2, a 2.89 GAA and an .897 save percentage with three-straight losses, it’s clear to see Rask isn’t the same goalie he has been throughout the years. It’s no secret he has a large contract, but he played fantastically well behind Tim Thomas and helped the Bruins in the playoffs. He’s played well over the last five years and I’ll never discredit what he has done for this team.

However, Rask has gone cold this season seemingly out of nowhere while Khudobin has been heating up. Cassidy has acknowledged just how well his backup has been playing, saying Khudobin has a hot hand.

Granted, some of Rask’s losses have come because the Bruins couldn’t string together another goal or Rask couldn’t make a game-changing save. I can easily compare this to the Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello – after he pitched his way to a Cy Young Award in 2016, he seemingly went cold the following season.

However, it was almost as if the Sox forgot how to score runs when he was on the mound. Porcello could pitch seven innings, giving up two runs and Boston would lose that game 2-1. It’s not that he didn’t pitch well, it’s not his team couldn’t string together runs.

There have been games like this for Rask where the offense couldn’t string together another goal or two and the goalie shouldn’t have to be relied upon to carry the team every single game. It’s a full team effort for the full 60 minutes they are on that ice and if the goalie looks lazy or looks as if he is not playing to his full potential, it’s going to impact the team.

And it has.

We see how well this team has played in front of Khudobin – there is more energy, urgency and there seems to be better chemistry on the ice. They’re winning games, Khudobin is making that game-changing save and the players are scoring that extra goal.

If Khudobin keeps playing the way he has, it will only be a matter of time until Rask finds himself as the number two goalie.

Written by: Lauren Campbell (lalalalaurrrren)

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