The question was posed a few months ago in the middle of the offseason; who will the Boston Bruins use to backup starting goalie Tuukka Rask? It had to be asked, as the Bruins had just let last year’s backup Anton Khudobin sign with the Carolina Hurricanes. Khudobin, who signed in Carolina for a simple one year, $800,000 contract, was more than reliable last season when it came to giving Rask some much needed rest.
Now, with Khudobin out of the picture, the Bruins are trying out some new candidates to step in every fourth or fifth game to spell Rask. They signed Chad Johnson, who had spent some time last year with the Phoenix Coyotes. Niklas Svedberg was brought in to camp after taking Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, to the Calder Cup Finals last year. Also auditioning for the spot was the Bruins’ 2012 first round pick, Malcolm Subban.
The preseason is just under a week old, but each player has seen his fair share of action. If I were a betting man, looking at each goalie’s performance, I’d stick with my preseason prediction of Svedberg eventually winning the job.
The Swedish netminder split time with Rask during the Bruins’ shootout victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, and he looked solid throughout the game. He also was able to withstand a long shootout to ensure a Boston victory.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s debut came Monday against the Montreal Canadiens and looked the exact opposite. Letting up three goals off eight shots, he didn’t give fans much reason to root for him. The Bruins ended up winning the game 6-3, thanks to Subban shutting out Montreal through the rest of the night.
Subban may have looked great Monday, but last night he came back to reality. Given the right to play an entire game against the Detroit Red Wings, Subban got absolutely shelled to the tune of 8-2. Its tough to criticize Subban, as he’s hardly seen anything like the Red Wings. That being said, he’s just not ready for the NHL just yet. If anything, he’s definitely earned the right to get some valuable time in Providence this season.
So, if its down to Svedberg and Johnson, its really a no-brainer. Some may disagree, claiming Johnson has NHL experience. Take a better look at this “experience” and you’ll see it consists of ten whole games. He spent most of last season in the AHL with the Portland Pirates, and with a GAA of 3.00, I’m not sure if he’s who you want to keep Rask well-rested.
Its only been four games, so a lot can change before the regular season opener in less than two weeks. However, if things stay the way they’re going, the choice will just become more and more obvious. Expect Svedberg to make the final cut.