Zane McIntrye

Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

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Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

UPDATE: The Boston Herald reports McIntyre is with the team as a replacement for Anton Khudobin, who is said to be suffering from a minor injury, and not Tuukka Rask, and that Rask will start as scheduled against Nashville.

BOSTON -- Even though he's been proclaiming himself healthy and able for the last two days, Tuukka Rask may not be as ready to go as everybody thought.

The Bruins announced a couple of hours prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators that rookie goalie Zane McIntyre had been recalled on an emergency basis. He spent the weekend with the team in the same capacity, filling in for Rask while Rask battled a lower body injury.

So the logical assumption is that something has recurred that will prevent Rask -- who on Tuesday night told interim coach Bruce Cassidy he was ready -- from playing tonight.

Rask is 8-8 with a 2.91 goals against average and an .892 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break, and gave up five goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed Saturday's big game vs. the Islanders with a lower body issue that just “popped up.”

We’ll find out for sure during pregame warm-ups, but the only way an emergency recall can be made is if a player is injured or suffering from an illness. Anton Khudobin looked fit as a fiddle while practicing with the Bruins on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, so stay tuned for the latest.

Bruins place struggling Anton Khudobin on waivers

Bruins place struggling Anton Khudobin on waivers

BRIGHTON, Mass -- It felt like an unavoidable fate given the way his second stint with the Bruins has gone this year, and on Wednesday B’s backup goaltender Anton Khudobin was placed in waivers by the Black and Gold.

Khudobin had struggled over the last three months to get into a rhythm as Tuukka Rask’s understudy while essentially playing one good game in his seven starts for the Bruins in a pretty key role for the Black and Gold. The 1-5-1 record, 3.06 goals against average and .885 save percentage tell pretty much the entire story for the 30-year-old Khudobin, and the one win in 10 games from Boston’s backup goaltenders clearly indicates a problem that needed addressing.

Claude Julien wasn’t going to drop the hammer on a goalie that clearly couldn’t get into a groove, but he also didn’t shy away from discussing the big problem with Khudobin after Don Sweeney signed him to a two-year deal on July 1.

“I don’t think he’s played at the level that we know he can, and that we’ve seen him play at in the past,” said Claude Julien. “I don’t know if I want to use the term [disappointed] that you used, but he’s certainly very capable of being a better goaltender than we’ve seen.”

So what’s next for the Bruins?

With the Bruins readying to depart on a four game road trip following Thursday night’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers, now would be the time to make the move with the goalies if the Bruins are going to do it.

One would expect that Zane McIntyre would get the first look as Rask’s backup after winning AHL goalie of the month honors in December, and his numbers have been spectacular this season: 10-0-0 with a 1.41 goals against average and a .951 save percentage were practically screaming for a look by the Black and Gold. The 24-year-old McIntyre has also already got the NHL pressure situations stuff out of the way by playing in both Madison Square Garden and the Bell Centre as his first two NHL starting gigs.

It will be an adjustment for McIntyre to get used to sporadic playing time as Rask’s backup partner, but it was also pretty clear that the B’s No. 1 goaltender is getting to a point in the season where he might need a little more rest after giving up the occasional soft goal as of late.  

Haggerty: Time for Bruins to pull the plug on Khudobin

Haggerty: Time for Bruins to pull the plug on Khudobin

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.