By far, the aspect of the Bruins that will look the most different from when we last saw them in the spring is in goal. Tim Thomas is long gone (we don’t have to go over his silly story yet again) so Tuukka Rask gets to be the starting goaltender and mostly unknown Anton Khudobin steps in as the backup. The good news is that Rask has experience as the starter, he took over from Thomas in 2009-10 and led the B’s to the Eastern Conference semifinals before their historic gag against the Flyers.
Rask is still only 25-years-old (he turns 26 on March 10) so he should be just starting to get into the prime of his career. Unfortunately for him, Thomas’s career was revitalized in 2010 so Rask had been the backup for the last two seasons. Also troubling is the fact that he seems to be getting the reputation as injury-prone. Nobody will confuse him with the Islanders Rick DiPietro in that regard but in this shortened season, it would be nice to see Rask make it through without missing any significant time.
2011-12: 11 wins, 8 losses, 3 overtime losses, .929 save percentage, 2.05 goals against average, 3 shutouts
Perhaps nobody on the Bruins has as much to gain or lose this season as their resident Finn. He gets to be the unquestioned starter with the lack of any real competition breathing down his neck (sorry Anton). He’s tall (6-foot-3) but very willowy (169 pounds) which might be the cause of his injury troubles. When he is on his game, he is capable of being one of the best goaltenders in the Eastern Conference and possibly the NHL. If he plays well this season, the Bruins are a legitimate cup contender. If not, it’ll be very hard to do anything in the playoffs.
Khudobin played one game with the Bruins last season (he was mostly stationed in Providence) and he has a grand total of seven NHL games on his resume. He is young (26) and from Kazakhstan which I guarantee you didn’t know before now. It’s hard to see him playing many games this season although I’m sure the schedule will be pretty wacky and condensed. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Anton can do when he gets an occasional start for the Bruins in 2013. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli probably has a list of veteran goaltenders around the NHL that would be available should either of these guys get hurt or Rask struggles.