Two preseason games remain. Two goalies remain. Next Thursday one of those goalies will be in a Bruins uniform filling the now vacant backup spot for Tuukka Rask.
Former Detroit Red Wings backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson will get probably his last chance to impress the Bruins brass when he gets the start in net tonight against the New York Rangers. He’s only played one half of a preseason game so far as he had to leave camp to be present for the birth of his daughter. However, he did not allow a goal in his lone appearance. As we mentioned earlier Gustavsson got an invite to camp this summer on a tryout basis.
That leaves Jeremy Smith as the only other remaining backup candidate in Bruins camp after goalies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre were both sent down to AHL Providence. Smith has appeared in two preseason games thus far, including a complete game shootout victory against the New York Rangers where he started out pretty shaky but settled in and made some nice saves in the 3rd period and the shootout.
Smith would appear to be the favorite to snag the backup duty. Not only is he a younger option that doesn’t have the injury history the older Gustavsson does but he also played very well in Providence last year and is familiar with the Bruins system and culture. There are less question marks with Smith. Another factor in the decision is Smith is already under contract for this season on a two-way $600,000 deal. Very few PTO (tryout) opportunities like the one Gustavsson is on pan out. Although the Bruins are far more comfortably under the salary cap than they were at the start of the summer I just can’t see them shelling out more cap dollars for yet another goalie.
It’s up to Gustavsson to put on a really stellar show tonight against the Rangers to land the job. Otherwise, expect to see Tuukka and Smith share some crease time Friday in the preseason finale. And then Smith can happily don the “ball cap and towel-around-the-neck” look on the bench for 65 games this season as the Bruins official #2 goalie.