Anton Khudobin put on a stellar performance last night at TD Garden versus the San Jose Sharks. Khudobin turned in a 36-save performance on 37 shots, with 15 of those in the third period. He is now 3-0-1 on the season, with a 2.52 GAA and a .926 save percentage. For a “back-up” goaltende, those are very good numbers in only five starts. He’s more than held down the fort during Tuukka’s absence, putting the team over .500 again. He even pulled a veteran goalie (more about this later) move last night by “inadvertently” bumping the goal off the pegs. A move long used by many goalies to stop play so their team can regroup.
On the flip side Tuukka Rask is 1-3 with a 3.30 GAA and a .882 save percentage. Those numbers would get a back-up goaltender a bus ticket to Medicine Hat. Tuukka has become a polarizing figure in Boston sports. You either love him or hate him, there is no in between. I’m not declaring where I fall in the polls, but I do know this: he needs competition, he needs to feel discomfort, and he needs to know his job holds no guarantees. Tuukka is your typical goaltender — competitive, fiery, but more importantly, he’s human. Not immune to getting comfortable, he occasionally loses concentration and lets in a soft goal and sometimes doesn’t bring his best when it matters most.
Anton Khudobin is 31 years old, he’s been around the block and obviously has not won a starting job in this league. Maybe he’s a late bloomer, like Tim Thomas. Thomas didn’t grab hold of a starting job until 2008 when he was 34 years old, and we all know what happened after that.
I’m not saying that Anton Khudobin is Tim Thomas, or even deserves the starting job with the Bruins. I AM saying that he deserves a chance to play more, if he and the team behind him are playing well.
In the end it should make Tuukka Rask uncomfortable. And I think that’s a good thing.