If the Bruins want to make certain they’re a playoff team four months from now, they’re going to need to improve their backup goaltending situation.
The Bruins have only one win in ten tries with their backup goalies after Anton Khudobin and the B’s dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Thursday night’s final game before the NHL holiday break.
“It’s just heartbreaking sometimes how hard we work, but we’re not capable of extending leads,” Claude Julien told reporters in Carolina. “With the number of chances we had in the first two periods and the number of chances we gave them, we thought we played well enough that we deserved to win. But somehow because we’re not capable of extending leads a little bit more and discouraging them by doing that, it gives them hope to come back in the games.”
It’s also giving other team’s “hope” when they Khudobin lead the Bruins out during pregame warm-ups rather than Tuukka Rask, and that’s not a good thing at all either.
The Bruins outshot the Hurricanes 33-23 in the loss, and it dropped Khudobin’s record on the season to 1-5-1 in seven appearances. It also marked the sixth time in those seven games that the Bruins have outshot their opponents in these losing efforts.
Khudobin wasn’t terrible in the loss, and the Bruins did end up getting an OT point to take three of four points on the road trip through Florida and Carolina. But he also was beaten in overtime by a routine Teuvo Teravainen shot from the high slot that ended the game, another instance where the Bruins backup goalie couldn’t come up with a save in the big moment that his team really needed one.
The Bruins are kissing away valuable points each time the backup goalie flubs a run-of-the-mill save chance, and that was the case again in Carolina with Khudobin when he needed to stop one of three Carolina goals. He got a pretty clean look at each one of them, but the Teravainen OT goal was by far the most indefensible.
Khudobin has a 3.06 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage this season, and he simply hasn’t been good enough. With that in mind, it’s time for the Bruins to get another look at Providence netminder Zane McIntyre, who is dominating the AHL. McIntyre is 8-0-0 and leads the American Hockey League with a .956 save percentage, and has already been though his NHL trial by fire with road starts in Madison Square Garden and the Bell Centre this season.
So while Khudobin hasn’t really shown a consistently high level of performance this season -- with an injury thrown into the middle of his season for good measure -- McIntyre is pushing for another look at the NHL level based on performance. The only downside to this move is if the Bruins were to lose Khudobin on waivers for nothing after sending him to Providence, and potentially lose one of the players who perhaps will be attractive to Las Vegas in this summer’s NHL expansion draft.
Then again, it’s pretty much a guaranteed lock that Vegas isn’t going to be very interested in Khudobin based on the way he’s played in the first three months of this season anyway.
So based on the play of both Khudobin and McIntyre, it would seem to be a no-brainer given how badly the offense-challenged Bruins need elite level goaltending every night if they hope to get the two points. It’s why the Bruins need to pull the plug on Khudobin after an uninspired last three months, and instead give a shot to a young goalie who could potentially give them a lot more performance, and points, between the pipes.