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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Can Anyone Play Goaltender for the Bruins Tomorrow Night at Madison Square Garden?

It didn't all happen at once but between injuries to goaltenders Tuukka Rask (general soreness, day-to-day) and Anton Khudobin (upper-body, out 3 weeks) over the last few days, this left the Bruins (3-3-0) in quite a predicament. Tonight, they were forced to suit up both of their Providence Bruins (AHL) goaltenders-Malcolm Subban (13 saves, 3 goals allowed) and Zane McIntyre (15 saves, 2 goals allowed)-against a decent Wild (4-2-1) team at TD Garden with predictable results: an embarrassing 5-0 Minnesota victory that was as ugly as you'll ever see in an NHL regular season game on home ice.

Like a fateful David Price start in the MLB playoffs, you quickly wondered why we ever thought for a second that maybe the B's could squeak out a point or two tonight. Subban, their terrible first-round pick from 2012 (24th overall) made his second NHL start and just like the last time in St. Louis (spring 2015), he was pathetically pulled in the second period. Where did it all go so wrong for Malcolm? It was 0-0 after a dull first period (save for a brief mauling of one Zac Dalpe by PC's own Tim Schaller). It all began when BU's Charlie Coyle managed to get a weak shot through traffic that Subban (who probably didn't see it) couldn't stop. Coyle's third goal of the season came at 5:07, assisted by Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal. 12 seconds later Chris Stewart banged in the puck that came shooting out to him in front of Boston's goal, it had deflected off of Patrice Bergeron's skate. Stewart's second goal of the season was assisted by Joel Eriksson Ek and Jason Zucker.

Subban's night was prematurely over after he gave up the softest goal of the trio: Ryan Suter floated a one-timer by his glove (which seemed to be in the proper position). Suter's second goal of the season was assisted by Matt Dumba and Mikael Granlund at 10:36. McIntyre's first NHL appearance (in a regular season game) was a strange one and he didn't have that much more success although down 3-0 with a lifeless team in front of him (no David Backes either), what did you realistically expect? Boston's defense let Zucker park in front of McIntyre where he tipped in Suter's shot from the point. Eriksson Ek had the other helper on Zucker's first tally of the season.

If you were hoping for any kind of spark for the Bruins to build on from the third period, it wasn't your night. At least they showed some balls when Torey Krug stuck up for Noel Acciari who had been boarded by Dalpe. Former Sabre Jason Pominville deposited a rebound after McIntyre made an initial quality save on Eriksson Ek. Pominville's second goal of the season rounded out the scoring mercifully at 15:12 (by that time the Garden was so empty, on Hockey Fights Cancer night no less) with the other assist credited to Zucker.

Along with these key injuries that have piled up recently, the B's have no luck from the schedule as tonight kicked off their first of 14 sets of back-to-back games. Tomorrow is Rivalry Night on NBCSN so the entire hockey world will get to see another potential disaster as the Rangers (4-2-0) host the Bruins in primetime (8 pm). I suppose the team doesn't have a choice but to start Subban again for fear of losing him mentally if they started McIntyre over him. Then again, barring the return of Tim Thomas or some other Bruins legend from the past, it's tough to see a much different outcome playing out in the Big Apple. All we can hope is that Rask's injury is not that serious; obviously if it is, the front office can't sit by idly and watch all those points get flushed down the Black and Gold toilet.

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