Anton Khudobin left Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)
BRIGHTON – Less than two weeks into the season, the Bruins may be down to their third goaltender.
The Bruins took to the ice for a Monday practice at Warrior Ice Arena already down starting netminder Tuukka Rask (general soreness). Out for the third straight skate, Rask’s absence put Anton Khudobin in the starter’s crease and forced the Bruins to summon Malcolm Subban up from the Providence Bruins. But when practice finished, it was Subban that was the only goalie left standing.
Injured as the rest of the team hit the ice, Khudobin dropped his blocker and went to the B’s bench for further examination by the training staff. In what appeared to be a hand/wrist issue, the 30-year-old looked to be in great discomfort before he exited back to the locker room and did not return.
“I have no update on him yet,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Khudobin after practice. “I have not heard, obviously. He got injured and couldn’t practice. I haven’t heard anything back yet.”
With the 22-year-old Subban at the other end by himself, and the loss of Khudobin, who has two losses and an .849 save percentage on the year, the Bruins are undoubtedly short on goaltenders.
“This is hockey. We deal with it on a day to day basis,” Julien said of the mounting goaltending injuries ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Wild. “If we have to make some adjustments and we have to have different personnel, we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update.”
The club is still without an update on Rask, too, according to their coach.
“He’s still day to day, so nothing’s changed there,” Julien confirmed of Rask. “I don’t know what his situation is for tomorrow. I can’t give it to you because no decision has been made on him.”
If both Rask and Khudobin are unable to go tomorrow, Subban, despite the slow start of an 0-3-1 record and .878 save percentage in four AHL games this year, including a 30-of-34 performance in an overtime loss against the Albany Devils on Sunday, would be the next man up for the club.
“Not the way you want to start the season,” Subban admitted of his start with a new-look, more inexperienced P-Bruins team this year. “But to be honest, last game I felt a lot better. That game didn’t go to the way I wanted to, but we were playing a hot team and I thought I played pretty well.”
Subban, whose 2015-16 season was cut short by a fractured larynx, finished this past preseason with two wins and a .904 save percentage in three games for the Big B’s, and feels his effort is there.
“I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m battling,” Subban said of his mindset throughout the slow start. “I feel like the biggest thing right now is just to battle. It’s not the first time I’ve faced adversity, and it’s not gonna be the last time, so I don’t feel to down on myself right now, to be honest.”
And in their final home game before a four-game road trip with stops in New York, Detroit, Florida, and Tampa, the Bruins are not going to look for style points from their third goaltender if called upon.
“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens here,” Julien said of Subban’s recall and availability for tomorrow. “If he’s going in goal, he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that.
“As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me: stop the puck, I don’t care how you do it, just stop it,” Julien continued. “I’m not a goalie coach, so as a coach I’m demanding on [the goalie] making the saves, and the goalie coach can work on the techniques.”
Subban has posted a 45-31-15 record, with a 2.46 goals against average and .916 save percentage in 99 career games in the American Hockey League.
A first-round draft pick (24th overall) in 2012, Subban has skated in one NHL game to date, a Feb. 20, 2015 loss to the St. Louis Blues, a game in which he received an early hook after he allowed three goals on just six shots against in 31 minutes of action.