(CSNNE.com) – For the second year in a row, Boston’s franchise goaltender and $7 million man Tuukka Rask couldn’t physically answer the bell for one of the biggest games of the year…. (Anton) Khudobin, who made 18 saves, gave Boston some energy and enthusiasm in the crease with the same kind of battling, chaotic style that Tim Thomas exhibited.
For now, the Bruins should ride the hot goalie — Khudobin, who showed Saturday he’s willing to battle his butt off — and let Cool Hand Tuukka cool his heels on the bench while recuperating from whatever it is that kept him out of a gigantically important game in Brooklyn this weekend.
CSNNE’s own Joe “There Goes The Best Sportswriter There Ever Was” Haggerty is not messing around. He’s delivering a clear message from the top rope with more finishing power than a “Macho Man” Randy Savage flying elbow drop:
Go with Anton Khudobin. And park Tuukka Rask.
Now before I get into Haggs’ scorcher I just want to say how wildly funny and reactionary Bruins fans are. I can’t believe this is a hot topic right now. It wasn’t even a month ago, hell even Saturday morning before the Islanders game, and people we’re screaming how shitty the B’s backup goalie situation is and now they want Khudobin to be named the starter with 8 games left in the season. What a world.
As for Haggs’ click-inducing take, I’ll say this… Anton Khudobin looked great against the Islanders on Saturday. He really did. Give the dude his credit. Aside from that John Tavares goal (who can, and does, score on every tendy in the galaxy) Khudobin shut the door on the Isles. That is what you ask of a goalie in a must-win situation and for Dobby to come up aces in the clutch was huge.
So yes, you could argue a hot hand should get the start Tuesday against the surging Nashville Predators. I wouldn’t be necessarily 100% against it if Dobby’s performance Saturday was my only reference point. But it’s not. I have other reasons to be against it.
Tuukka Rask has clearly been overworked and is obviously battling an injury that has been nagging him all season. It doesn’t excuse Rask’s recent dip in performance, but you can’t deny that it has played into it. Then add in a team in front of him that recently, from top to bottom, has been devoid of urgency or jump. That’s a recipe for losing.
But guess what? He’s still better. He just is. And if we’ve been force fed three straight seasons of the almost never successful “rebuild on the fly because we think we’re still a playoff team with this core”, and we’re paying a big part of that core $7 million per year to stop pucks, I’m putting his ass in net on Tuesday. He’s a good player in the bed this organization has made with one good line and two legit defenseman. This team is still right where we thought they’d be, and where they should be, in the standings.
End of story.
Only Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak can boast a value as great as Tuukka Rask’s this season as to why this team has a sniffing chance at playing mid-April or beyond hockey.
“He’s our #1 goalie,” as Bruce Cassidy put it Monday morning.
Sure, in his spot starts Khudobin has been good as of late. We only had to wait five months for him to get a second win and start to figure it out. But even his recent winning performance in Calgary less than two weeks ago (March 15th) was absolute nightmare fuel. Look no further than the Dougie Hamilton goal from center ice that beat him cleanly if you need confirmation. I’m glad he’s winning and I loved what I saw Saturday, but he’s also mortal. He’s not a sure thing.
Is Rask a sure thing right now? No. Clearly not. But I still ride him. That decision also goes beyond the front office sales pitch of a “contending rebuild”, or the cash he makes, or his “starter” title. It’s the fact that if you decide to sit Tuukka you can’t put that genie back in the bottle. Just like if the Rangers had rode the red hot Cam Talbot over King Henrik a couple seasons ago while Hank came back from injury. No suit is going to lose his job over that decision.
If you sit Tuukka you Marc-Andre Fleury him. No, Khudobin isn’t as good as the then starter in waiting Matt Murray was in Pittsburgh, but once you start down that road the dynamic changes. That’s all it took in Pittsburgh to put Fleury’s departure time on the clock. And that’s fine in a star-studded offensive juggernaut locker room in Pittsburgh that doesn’t rely on goalie as much, yet still knows Murray is a capable career starter.
If Boston went the route of doubt with Tuukka and don’t ride him in favor of a guy who isn’t even a career 1B, he’s just a “B”ackup, then you’ve got to move on from Tuukka completely.
Whether you want that to happen this summer or not is another topic for another blog. I don’t know if the Bruins brass possess the balls to make their bed by rolling those dice right now. I don’t even know if they are dumb enough to do it or have a fraction of the brains to get a competent replacement in the aftermath of such a decision. Again, that’s offseason hockey talk.
You can hate me and my take if you want. It’s just hockey. Barring the injury completely sidelining him you stick with Rask the rest of the way and plug in Khudobin when needed. He’ll be fine. I think the 5 days rest between Tuukka’s Thursday performance and tomorrow night’s action is a great thing for a guy that’s logged more hard miles than Forrest Gump.
So Haggs we’ll have to agree to disagree even though you did make some very good points. But we’ve had to watch an organization ride this core in limbo for three years now and we’re going to see it through.
Like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, there’s a chance that taking out the Porsche you’ve been warned not to will end badly. But it’s a fucking Porsche. Do it.
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