Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Bruins have a new 'problem' brewing in net

Ty Anderson
December 04, 2017 - 5:44 pm

The Bruins appear to have a new problem brewing: They have two goalies approaching and/or at the top of their game, and have just one net to give on a nightly basis.

After what was largely a November to forget, Tuukka Rask has rattled off back-to-back wins and started the last three games overall, with just two goals allowed on his last 49 shots faced, including a 28-save shutout against the Flyers last Saturday. B’s backup Anton Khudobin, meanwhile, will get the start in Nashville tonight. He comes into play with a 7-0-2 record (including four straight wins) and a .932 save percentage to his name this season. Khudobin, mind you, hasn’t played in nearly two weeks.

Safe to say that B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy is trying to balance two surging goaltenders, and that this is far from the worst problem to have if you’re the Bruins.

But with 10 days between starts for Khudobin, is it possible for him to be the same goaltender giving legitimacy to the idea of the team’s first goaltending duel since 2010 upon his return to the crease?

"I'm doing everything I've been doing. It's harder when you're not playing as much to go in there and be 100 percent," the 31-year-old Khudobin, who stopped 17 shots in a 4-3 win in his last start, which came back on Nov. 24, admitted. "You're ready 100 percent [of the time], but it's harder when you don't feel the game and you go and play. You always expect that you're going to play really, really good. You're getting ready for that. I'm not predicting anything, but hopefully it will continue. That's all I can say."

It’s tough not to read into the frustration within those quotes, and it’s hard to blame Khudobin for feeling that way, especially given the NHL-best run he was on when Cassidy decided to park him on the bench in an effort to get the slumping Rask going.

And Khudobin himself also admitted that he’s ‘not happy’ with not playing but noted that he understands it given his role, and has been given a simple task from Cassidy.

“Just give us a chance to win,” Cassidy said of what he wants from Khudobin against the Predators. “Hopefully he’s still in form. That’s the risk you take by not starting him. He’s sat for a little while. But as a guy that’s used to that, you’ll hope that he finds his game quickly and we’re good in front of him. This is not an easy building to play in, so this will be a good challenge for him. He’s been up to it so far, especially on the road.”

If that happens, too, it’s hard to imagine Cassidy’s two-goalie headache getting any easier by the time the Black and Gold return to Boston for Thursday night’s game.

But, again, things could be much worse. And all parties involved -- Rask, Khudobin, and Cassidy -- know that.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner - David Krejci - Anders Bjork

Danton Heinen - Riley Nash - David Backes

Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

Anton Khudobin

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