The Real Problem In Net

Well what do we have here? Seems like now that football season is over, the media in this town can consume 50 days of hockey and basketball and suddenly they're experts on the B's and C's. So let me just school the football people real quick. 

Can you believe there was actually a debate in this town whether or not Anton Khudobin should start the rest of the season instead of Tuukka Rask? And it's not even for the one reason I would actually consider this*. Some folks watched Anton Khudobin make 18 saves against the Islanders** and think that he's suddenly a legitimate NHL starter. That's very very inaccurate. 

Yet still, I can't get Tuukka Rask out of town fast enough. For one, I'm tired of his nonchalant post-game press conferences. Everyone beats up on David Price for having the "aw shucks" comments after getting shelled in 4 innings, but it's totally fine when Rask gives up 6 goals and says "we'll get 'em next time". Just once I'd like to see him flip a medical table in the locker room. 

But the problem with Rask goes deeper, and I don't put all the blame on him. Since the Bruins began their playoff drought in 2014, Tuukka Rask has started 189 of a possible 240 games. For comparison, the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist*** has played 154 over that same time, a 35-game difference. The workload may be one thing, but the real source of this issue lies in the backup situation.

Over the last 2+ seasons, since the start of 2014, the Bruins backup goalies are a combined 24-25-3 in 52 games. 24 wins! In only 52 tries! That's barely one half of one seasons worth over the last three, and a sub-.500 record to boot. 

The fact is that the Bruins have been messing around with backup goalies since Marty Turco. It's been Khudobin, Niklas Svedberg, Jonas Gustavsson, and then Khudobin again. None of them have provided any semblance of a confident option, forcing Rask to play untimely heavy minutes. 

So no wonder Rask looks tired. And cranky. And disengaged. The guy IS all of those things. There's a ton of mileage on those tires, and for a guy who's not that old, there's not a lot of tread left. 

If you're familiar with my work, you know how I would have solved this issue - Two years ago I would have brought up the kid you spent a first round pick on. No, Malcolm Subban's numbers in the NHL (or AHL for that matter) don't look great, but ask yourself this - Is there any way Subban could have done worse over the last 3 seasons than the combination of Svedberg, Gustavsson and Khudobin? I'll be he'd at least be better than 24-25-3. Worst case scenario? At least you know what you have with the kid. It's not too late to see if the kid can provide some stability at the backup position next season, but there is mold starting to grow on that piece of bread. 

*I'd go with Khudobin the rest of the way because Rask has played too many damn minutes!

**The best chance from the Islanders in that third period came when John Tavares rang the post on a beautiful setup. 

***Another goalie who plays way too much


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