Finally it seems like Bruce Cassidy had the guts to make the move Bruins fans have been begging for. Khudobin may have saved the Bruins season from completely going down the drain. Riding a four game losing streak on the second night of a back-to-back against a team with the second best record in the Western Conference. The Bruins were underdogs to say the least. But like he has done since March of last year Khudobin stepped up and delivered in a way Rask has not. Khudobin made 27 saves on 28 shots, with a brilliant .964 save percentage. He then followed that up with an even better performance against the San Jose Sharks stopping 36 out of 37 shots leading the Bruins to back to back wins, and 4 out of 6 points on their California road swing.
After the Bruins improbable win against the Kings, Bruce Cassidy came out after the game and stated the Khudobin would be the starter for the time being. Granted Cassidy made no long term commitments after the San Jose game, but it’s expected that Khudobin will continue to get the call in goal over Tuukka Rask. Tuukka also spoke about the decision giving credit to Khudobin and publicly agreeing with Cassidy’s decision. Cassidy really had no other choice at this point. Tuukka has been retched this season, and Khudobin just cannot seem to lose.
The stat that shows the impact that Khudobin has had on this team the best is the team’s record in games that he has gotten the start in net. In games Khudobin started this season the Bruins have not lost a game in regulation. Khudobin secured points in all of his starts on the way to a 5-0-2 record. Currently Khudobin has a .935 save percentage, and 2.17 goals allowed on average. On top of that he has won games the Bruins had no business winning. His .935 save percentage is third best in the NHL and he is also tied for sixth in the NHL in GAA.
Is Khudobin going to continue this production? Most likely not, considering Anton has spent the majority of his career as a back up and never started more than 36 games in a season. But Cassidy and the Bruins need to ride the hot hand of Khudobin if they care about this season. However, the Bruins cannot get too comfortable with him in net. As quickly as he became a top ten goalie in the NHL he could fall off a cliff. That’s what backups do: they can get insanely hot for as much as an entire season. However in the end they usually average out. So for Cassidy the long term solution is still getting Rask back at the top of his game. Maybe benching him for a month will be the kick in the ass he needs.
One thing is for certain Anton Khudobin has been the MVP for the Bruins this season. With the non-stop injuries ravishing the NHL roster Khudobin has been a calming force for the young kids. Especially with players getting closer to a return to the lineup, namely Marchand and Spooner. The Bruins are going to continue to lean heavily on Khudobin to carry this team throughout. Now let’s see if the feel good story of an overachieving backup can last.