By any measure, Providence, RI is a fine city and when you compare it to many of the other backwater places that AHL clubs call home, it’s clear that you could do much worse than the capital of the Ocean State. However, Providence Bruins (19-7-4) goaltender Zane McIntyre no doubt would like to get out of there as soon as possible and preferably never look back as he hopes to get back with Boston (where he made his NHL debut earlier this season and didn’t appear fazed in his first three games). On Monday, he was named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December when he went 9-0-0 with a goals-against average of 1.65 and a save percentage of .947.
Tuukka Rask (19-8-3, 1.93 goals-against average, .928 save percentage, 4 shutouts) is having a superb season for the Bruins (20-16-4) so this isn’t to say that McIntyre should be getting a chance over Rask. Instead, Boston’s backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (1-5-1, 3.06 goals-against average, .885 save percentage) has needed to go for a while now, and the B’s mercifully cut ties with him Wednesday.
For the season with Providence, McIntyre is 10-0-0 and he leads the AHL in goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951). What else does he have to prove? Khudobin clearly wasn’t the answer. In a limited role with the B’s in 2013, he was just what you want from a backup on a Stanley Cup squad (9-4-1, 2.32 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, 1 shutout), but in a professional athlete’s career arc, that was a long time ago.
The cliché that every point matters applies to the Bruins, who are currently tied for second-place in the Atlantic Division with Ottawa (20-13-4). But the Senators have played three fewer games than them. Meanwhile, Toronto (17-12-8) and Tampa Bay (19-16-4) are both only two points behind the B’s. That’s why it is paramount that they give Rask a breather from time to time. He has started 30 out of their 40 games, including some back-to-back contests which is always a logical occasion to start your No. 2 goalie.
After Monday’s lifeless 3-0 loss at New Jersey (16-16-7), Rask sounded understandably frustrated.
“Obviously you lose games and sometimes you can take a lot of positives out of it, despite the losses, but today I don’t think there was too much,” he said.
There are many things that the Bruins are hamstrung by during this campaign: lack of goal-scoring, little depth on defense and a terrible power play that they can’t really change at the moment. However, going in a different direction for their backup goaltender is overdue at this point.