Tuukka Rask to Start for the Boston Bruins Versus the Florida Panthers on Saturday
The fate of the 2016-17 Boston Bruins is in the team’s hands. If the team wins out, the postseason is guaranteed. With the Bruins holding a three-point lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning with just one more game played, the advantage goes to Boston. Winning out a tough schedule that still includes a matchup against the Lightning, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ottawa Senators and the Washington Capitals, however, won’t be easy. It’s also something the Bruins shouldn’t focus on.
What the Bruins should look at, however, is utilizing their team efficiently as the regular season winds down. First and foremost, that starts with goaltending. The Bruins have already made it known that Tuukka Rask is getting the start in net against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. It isn’t clear yet whether or not Rask will also travel with the team to Chicago to face off against the Blackhawks on Sunday.
For the Bruins, the importance of resting Rask must be weighed against winning games. That isn’t to say that any game that Rask doesn’t start will automatically be a loss, however. Khudobin started the season with one win (and three points) in his first eight games – including a 2.875 goals against average and a .885 save percentage. He’s since turned things around, however. In his last six games, Khudobin has five wins and a 1.83 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. The Bruins best chance of winning games will always be with Rask in net, but playing Khudobin shouldn’t scare the team off.
At this point in the season in recent years, the Bruins have driven Rask into the ground. Inconsistent goaltending play from backups led the team to rely on Rask to play every game – something that carried over to the first half of this season as well. Now that Khudobin looks to have turned his year around, things are different.
Rask doesn’t need to start every game. He doesn’t need to burn himself out ahead of the playoffs. The Bruins will need to best figure out their balancing of the goaltending situation in the weeks ahead. The playoffs are within reach – the Bruins just need to want it more than their competition.