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    Stanley Cup Champs

    Tackling the Bruins goaltending conundrum

     Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images.

    As the season enters its final stretch, the Bruins are faced with the task of playing multiple back-to-back games over the weekend, and with Tuukka Rask fulfilling his duty between the pipes for most of the season, he will need some serious R and R if he wants to avoid exhaustion when the Bruins shoot for the playoffs. Fans have already seen Niklas Svedberg do most of the heavy-lifting as the go-to goalie while Rask takes a breather, but is Svedberg the best option for the Bruins? With the insurmountable amount of goaltending depth honing their skills back in Providence and with Florida close on their heels, it is worth looking into the options that Peter Chiarelli has to guard the blue paint come the final playoff grind.  

    Svedberg is breaking even playing at an NHL level in his first year backing Rask, posting a 6-5 overall record while recording a .917 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA. It’s normal for goaltenders to go through some growing pains when transitioning from the AHL to the fast-paced play of the NHL, playing against top-calibre players and teams. For the most part, Svedberg has done what he has been required to do, serving as the back-up. Of course, one can argue that he could play in a little more games to relieve Rask, but for the most part, his save percentage is competitive with other back-up goaltenders in the league.

    Malcolm Subban on the other hand, has had a rougher start, debuting against the St. Louis Blues in which he was promptly chased out of the net, sending Rask back between the pipes. According to TheAHL.com, the 6’2” goaltender was posting a 12-10-4 overall record back in Providence and holding onto a stable .919 save percentage, splitting time with Jeremy Smith. 

    With this in mind, the Bruins can also go in another direction, calling up Smith who has posted a 14-8-4 overall record and holding onto a .931 save percentage, and two shutouts while in the AHL. He has shown consistency at this level and brings stability and consistency to the Providence goaltending situation, which makes him a reliable choice for the Bruins to call up so he can dip his toes in NHL play.

    Taking all of this into account, the Bruins should definitely consider bringing Smith up to play a few NHL games to see how he fares. Look at Andrew Hammond and what he’s done for the Ottawa Senators – going 3-0 before losing to the Minnesota Wild last night while Cory Anderson backs him up. It may also be wise to warm Smith up against teams that are below the Bruins in the standings, so that the Bruins don’t have a repeat to Subban's debut. 

    But what happens when the Bruins are faced with two high-calibre opponents? It's going to be an intense match-up when Philadelphia comes to town and Detroit has captain Henrik Zetterberg returning to the lineup against the Rangers.  The following weekend afterwards is a back-to-back against top-calibre teams Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

    At the very least, if Smith is not the answer, give Subban another shot.

    Subban did return with 6:06 remaining in the third period against the Blues. Even though he didn’t face any shots, it still shows character coming in and finish the job he was asked to do. Also, debuting against the St. Louis Blues is no easy endeavor, especially with the amount of parity between the East and Western conferences.

    If anything, it would be useful to test the amount of goaltending depth the Bruins have in Providence to see where their prospects are at, and then decide from there on who would be best to back-up Rask. 

    Via NHL Bruins

    Updated 05/03 at 5:13pm.