Boston Bruins: Goaltending Will Play A Crucial Role Versus Tampa

Boston Bruins, Dan Vladar #80 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, Dan Vladar #80 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning were evenly matched goaltending-wise until just a couple of weeks ago.

With Tuukka Rask opting to head home, suddenly there’s been a spanner thrown in the works for the Boston Bruins.

If this match-up was to occur a few weeks ago, indeed it actually did in the round-robin tournament, you’d have a Vezina nominee at either end of the ice.

Instead, the Boston Bruins are now reliant upon Jaroslav Halak to get them through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, whereas Tampa still have Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes at the other end.

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Perhaps even more concerning with back-to-back fixtures on the schedule is the Bruins’ lack of an experienced backup to fill in for Halak. While Dan Vladar had a great season with the Providence Bruins, he is very much unproven at the NHL level, let alone in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On the reverse of that, the Lightning have an experienced journeyman in Curtis McElhinney that they would surely be comfortable calling upon should the need arise.

It’s safe to say that the Boston Bruins are going to have to ride Halak hard in this series; to risk Vladar could hugely hinder his development as the team’s future goalie. equally though, maybe he would shine if called upon. It’s hard to know about how a young player will react in such a circumstance.

With all this said, the Tampa Bay net is still vulnerable; Vasilevskiy may have had the most regular season wins, but both Halak and Rask had better save percentages and goals against averages.

It’s hard to compare the two starting goalies based on this post-season given the vastly different opponents they each faced.

The Carolina Hurricanes are a much more aggressive team offensively than the Columbus Blue Jackets with their defense-first mentality. Add a 61-save performance in that 5OT win and any other comparisons are a little skewed numbers-wise.

On his day, Jaroslav Halak can perform just as well as the Tampa goalie; he’s proven in the past when he gets it going, he is possibly the best backup in the league. In fact, he’d likely be the starter on several other teams!

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Goaltending will play a key role in this series and it’ll be absolutely essential that the Boston Bruins don’t let the opposition anywhere near Halak for fear of an injury throwing Dan Vladar into the spotlight.