The Boston Bruins have been ravaged by injuries this season and are struggling to score of late, putting an even greater burden on the team’s goaltending to step up and steal some games.
Backup goalie Anton Khudobin did just that Thursday night in Los Angeles with a 2-1 win over the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
He stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced for his fourth win of the season. In fact, the Russian goalie still hasn’t lost in regulation. He’s 4-0-2 with a .925 save percentage.
Tuukka Rask is the Bruins’ best goalie. Sure, he’s struggled a bit this season with a disappointing .901 save percentage and a 2.90 GAA, but he gives the Bruins the best chance to win on a consistent basis.
That said, Rask has played a lot of games in recent seasons, and the inability of Boston’s backup goalies to pick up valuable points in the standings has been among the team’s most glaring weaknesses during that span. Through the first month-and-a-half of the campaign, that hasn’t been a concern at all.
In baseball, you can’t have too much good pitching, and the same can be said about goaltending in the NHL. Khudobin is giving the Bruins the goalie depth they need to right the ship and climb up the Eastern Conference standings as the team gets healthier.
Here are some other notes from the Bruins’ win.
— Don’t be surprised if Khudobin gets another start Saturday night against the Sharks in San Jose. He has a .967 save percentage and a 0.99 GAA in his career versus the Sharks.
— The B’s need secondary scoring from young players like Danton Heinen with veterans like Brad Marchand and David Backes out of the lineup due to injury. Heinen scored against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night and assisted on Zdeno Chara’s winning goal versus the Kings, giving him points in back-to-back games for the first time since mid-October.
— Bruins rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy went scoreless in eight straight games until Thursday when he opened the scoring with a first-period goal. It was his first tally since Boston’s season-opening victory over the Nashville Predators.
McAvoy has an excellent shot for a D-man, but he doesn’t shoot as often as he should. He’s taken one or zero shots in nine of his 16 games this season.
— McAvoy’s goal came off a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win in the attacking zone. The veteran center regularly ranks as the best faceoff man in the league, or at the very least among the leaders. His ability to win offensive-zone draws this season has been on another level, though, as evidenced in the tweet below.
— Bergeron missed the first five games of the season with an injury, and he’s been fantastic since returning to the ice. He’s posted 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 games so far, while driving puck possession with a stellar (and team-leading) 59.19 Corsi For percentage during 5-on-5 play.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images