BOSTON, Mass – Once again backup goaltender Anton Khudobin is riding to the rescue in Boston’s time of need.
Khudobin will be making his second straight start for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden as Tuukka Rask nurses “a very minor, lower body injury” that hasn’t really progressed over the last couple of days. Rask was able to make it out for morning skate with his Bruins teammates, so he’ll presumably be backing up Khudobin against the Red Wings once again.
"Tuukka is out skating today," said Cassidy. "He's feeling better. … We'll make a decision after the skate, talk to Tuukka and if he feels if he had to go in and he could do it, he would back up. Otherwise we would look at a goaltender from Providence."
The 31-year-old certainly hasn’t been lights out for the Bruins lately either with just a .904 save percentage over his last five games, but he does lead the Bruins with a .921 save percentage while posting a respectable 2.34 goals against average this season.
And he was brilliant on Saturday night while stopping 27-of-28 shots and playing flawlessly behind a Bruins team that definitely made some mistakes in front of him. So Khudobin will get another start in a season that will go down as the best of his NHL career where he’s consistently been used more than in any other.
“Like I always say, it’s hard to sit for a week on the bench and then go in there. You have to catch the game earlier, and sometimes you don’t feel it. When you play more, then you’re [in it],” said Khudobin. “I don’t know what the coaches thing, but the way I’ve played this year that maybe they’re a little more comfortable with me. I don’t know. But I’m just focused on my game and now it happens that I’m going to play two in a row. That is good.
“It’s been good. In Carolina I had a good season, but I was hurt for half of the season. I played a lot of games and played 36 games, which was pretty good. But this year has been very good. Standings-wise is where we want to be with the team and winning-wise. So overall, yeah, this has been my best [season] probably.”
The scary proposition for the Bruins is where they would be without Khudobin, who keyed their three-month stretch of dominance by winning four in a row with Tuukka Rask benched way back in November. This stretch of two straight starts for Khudobin feels like a similar situation with just a month to go in the regular season, and with the Bruins looking to find any way to get the most out of their No. 1 goalie down the stretch and into the playoffs.
The brilliance of Khudobin has allowed the Bruins to properly rest Rask all season, and that continues in the first week of March as the B’s all begin preparations for the final stretch run into the Stanley Cup playoffs.