Who will step up and give the Bruins some decent backup goaltending?


This post is part of Bruins Day on PHT…

The past three seasons combined, only one NHL goalie, Washington’s Braden Holtby, has played more minutes and made more saves than Tuukka Rask.

In a related story, the Bruins haven’t had a reliable backup for three years running.

In 2014-15, it was Niklas Svedberg that lost the trust of then-head coach Claude Julien.

The next season, Jonas Gustavsson played well at times, but not well enough overall.

Which brings us to last year, when Anton Khudobin was brought back to Boston, only to end up on waivers by January.

Rask, meanwhile, had to play, and play a lot. He started out in excellent form, but as the minutes piled up, his numbers began to suffer.

It got to the point in late March that Bruce Cassidy, Julien’s mid-season replacement, had to admit that Rask had been “overplayed.”

“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year,” Cassidy said, “and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”

Credit to Rask, who wasn’t the reason the B’s fell to Ottawa in the first round. If anything, it was all the injuries to the blue line that hurt the Bruins the most. For his part, Rask finished the playoffs with a .920 save percentage.

But with a decent backup, the B’s might’ve been able to get home-ice advantage in the playoffs. A rested Rask might’ve been even better when the games really mattered.

Next season, the Bruins are likely to start with the same tandem of Rask and Khudobin, the latter of whom still has a year left on his contract.

But if Zane McIntyre or Malcolm Subban can outplay Khudobin in the preseason, the No. 2 job could easily be taken from the veteran.

Based on his AHL numbers, McIntyre has a decent shot of doing just that. In 30 games for Providence last season, the 24-year-old had an impressive .930 save percentage.

Of course, McIntyre also got into eight NHL games last season, and his save percentage was a ghastly .858. So there’s that to consider as well.

As for Subban, his only two NHL starts have been nightmares, and his AHL numbers have actually fallen since his first two years as a pro. But there’s still a sliver of hope for the 23-year-old. One never knows when a goalie could get hot.

For the Bruins’ sake, it doesn’t really matter which goalie emerges as the backup, as long as one of them does a decent job and keeps 30-year-old Rask fresh.

Recall 2010-11 when it was Rask who played the role of reliable backup, keeping Tim Thomas fresh for his Conn Smythe Trophy-winning performance in the playoffs.

That’s what the B’s need in 2017-18 — a reliable backup. If they get one, it’ll be the first time they’ve had that in a while.

Combined, Boston’s backups went a miserable 7-11-2 last season.

De Haan, Isles far apart going into arbitration: report


Calvin de Haan had a career-high 25 points for the Islanders last season, and now he wants to get paid.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the 26-year-old defenseman is seeking $5 million per season from the Isles in arbitration. Meanwhile, the team is thinking more like $1.95 million.

De Haan’s three-year, $5.9 million contract expired July 1, making him a restricted free agent. His salary was $2.9 million last season.

As always, these reported figures need to be taken with a grain of salt. The Isles probably don’t expect de Haan to take a pay cut. His arbitration hearing isn’t scheduled until Wednesday, so there’s still time to settle.

That being said, the Isles do need to be careful with their long-term spending, what with John Tavares‘ unrestricted free agency looming.

Related: Islanders’ D getting crowded with four-year deal for Adam Pelech

PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ series starts tomorrow (Aug. 1)


Every August, we focus on one NHL team per day and run through all its issues and looming questions for the upcoming season.

This August, we won’t even be left with one extra day, as thanks to the addition of Vegas, the NHL now has as many teams as days in the month.

How convenient!

Tomorrow, we’ll start out with the Boston Bruins, followed by the rest of the Atlantic Division. By next Wednesday, we’ll be onto the Central, beginning with Nashville. The Metropolitan will be next, and we’ll finish with the Pacific, wrapping up with the Golden Knights on the 31st.

The schedule:

Aug. 1: Boston
Aug. 2: Buffalo
Aug. 3: Detroit
Aug. 4: Toronto
Aug. 5: Florida
Aug. 6: Ottawa
Aug. 7: Montreal
Aug. 8: Tampa Bay
Aug. 9: Nashville
Aug. 10: Chicago
Aug. 11: Dallas
Aug. 12: Winnipeg
Aug. 13: Colorado
Aug. 14: St. Louis
Aug. 15: Minnesota
Aug. 16: Washington
Aug. 17: Pittsburgh
Aug. 18: NY Rangers
Aug. 19: Carolina
Aug. 20: New Jersey
Aug. 21: NY Islanders
Aug. 22: Columbus
Aug. 23: Philadelphia
Aug. 24: Los Angeles
Aug. 25: Edmonton
Aug. 26: Vancouver
Aug. 27: Arizona
Aug. 28: Calgary
Aug. 29: San Jose
Aug. 30: Anaheim
Aug. 31: Las Vegas

We hope you enjoy the series. Feel free to suggest any post ideas in the comments section below.

Tortortella gets contract extension through 2018-19


The NHL’s reigning coach of the year has a bit more job security today.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed John Tortorella to a one-year contract extension that takes him through the 2018-19 season.

“John Tortorella and his coaching staff have done a terrific job since his arrival nearly two years ago,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “He is one of the top coaches in our game and we are excited about what lies ahead for our club with John as our head coach.”

Tortorella won the Jack Adams Award after helping the Jackets to a playoff spot in 2016-17.

The award capped off a remarkable year for Tortorella, who started the season as the odds-on favorite to be fired first.

Bruins appoint Jay Leach as AHL head coach


The Boston Bruins have appointed Jay Leach as head coach of the Providence Bruins.

Leach, 37, replaces Kevin Dean, who was promoted earlier this offseason to work alongside Bruce Cassidy in Boston.

Leach, a former NHL defenseman who spent most of his pro career in the AHL, was an assistant coach last season in Providence. He joined the B’s organization last summer after a year spent as an assistant for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Bruins also announced that Spencer Carbery has been hired to assist Leach in Providence, and that Mike Dunham has been hired as Goaltender Development Coach.

Related: Fred Brathwaite joins Islanders as goalie coach