BRIGHTON -- While the Bruins stopped short of announcing who'll be in goal for Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Bruce Cassidy continued to maintain that the embattled Tuukka Rask is their No. 1 goaltender.
Anton Khudobin, riding a four-game winning streak, is one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, while Tuukka Rask is 3-8-2 this season after giving up three goals on 35 shots in Sunday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers. But, when pressed, Cassidy said he still has no qualms about Rask being “the guy."
“Ideally I’d like both goalies to give us a chance to win every night and be at the top of their game," said Cassidy. "That’s what we need and that hasn’t changed. It’s just maybe the script has changed a bit from what we thought [it would be]. I think we’ve seen that with Anton, and with Tuukka it’s not there yet. He’s out there competing, but it just hasn’t all pulled together for him yet. It’s a product of the individual and it’s a product of the way the team has played in front of him. If we can get both a little bit better, then the results will be there.
“We’re not afraid to use either goaltender right now. It’s not an exact science. Tuukka is our No. 1 and Anton is our backup, and our backup has played really well. He’s really pushing our No. 1 and we wanted it that way. So hopefully our No. 1 gets his game up there where they’re both playing at their top game. That’s what we want.”
Clearly it’s an odd situation for Rask, who sat for four straight games while healthy for the first time since he was still backing up Tim Thomas in 2011-12. But he wore a calm, confident face while talking after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
Rask indicated the answer was pretty simple when asked what he wants to accomplish the next time he starts.
“Win,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s definitely different, but it hasn’t been difficult. It makes you work harder in practice. You definitely don’t want to take anything for granted and your work ethic has to be there no matter what, so you just have to prove yourself every practice that you’re still sharp. Then when you get a chance to play you get your chance to win.
“You’ve got to earn your playing time. I’m pretty sure if I play lights out then I’m going to be playing all the time. If [Khudobin] plays lights out and I play lights out then we’re [both] going to play, and if Dobie plays lights out and I’m not then he’s going to play. I think the situation is going to resolve itself, and I think we’re both in a good situation where we feel good about our games. I haven’t gotten the wins, but I feel like I’ve been on top of my game. I’m just hoping that the results will follow.”
Given that Khudobin is still riding a winning streak, the most reasonable call would be to play Khudobin against Tampa Bay and then reassess the situation again based on how he fares against the high-powered Bolts. It’s clear, though, that sooner or later the Bruins are going to start calling Rask’s number with regularity, and it might happen against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia teams that he’s routinely dominated over the course of his mostly standout career in Boston.