Remember three months ago, when all eyes were fixed on the Bruins goaltending situation? You may recall a fair amount of chaos and speculation, as four viable contenders duked it out to become Boston’s newest back-up goaltender behind Tuukka Rask. Well, if you thought that madness was gone for good, then you’re sorely mistaken. It’s just on hiatus until next off-season.
Jonas Gustavsson has been solid in goal for the Bruins this season. He’s posted a 5-2-0 record and a .908 save percentage for the Bruins so far this season, and has given up two or fewer goals in 4 out of his 8 appearances. However, the 31-year-old net-minder will become an unrestricted free-agent next summer, and with several young goaltenders developing in the Bruins’ system, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boston and Gustavsson parting ways after just one season.
That of course, leads us to the obvious question: Who will Boston’s next back-up be? Malcolm Subban has had his struggles, and it’s unclear at this point whether the Subban will ever be able to find success beyond the AHL level. To whom, then, does the mighty Bruins finger (or paw, if you will) point? Zane McIntyre might be just the guy.
McIntyre signed with the Bruins this summer after a stellar career with the University of North Dakota. Calling McIntyre a “stand-out” would be a drastic understatement. McIntyre set school records for career save percentage (.926) , as well as goals against average (2.10) in his three years at North Dakota, and was nominated as a Hobey Baker Award finalist. He would’ve had a decent shot at winning it, too, if it wasn’t for that kid named Jack Eichel.
McIntyre’s time with the Baby-Bruins has been a learning experience, as many would have guessed. After Malcom Subban went down with an injury just after training camp finished, McIntyre was thrown into the starting role immediately. After a solid first start against Wilkes-Barre, in which he stopped 38 of 40 shots, McIntyre had issues in his next six appearances. He came out with a 2-3-2 record through his first seven, and continued with a few more bumps in the road, or hiccups, as he would call them.
“It’s been what I expected, in a sense — but also had a couple hiccups, some bumps in the road, but I think that’s, in the long run, going to make me a better player, a better person in life,” he said, per bruins.nhl.com. “It’s been a lot of adjusting, but in the same sense, too, the guys have been great making that transition. The coaching staff here has been straight upfront with what’s going on, and that’s all you can ask.
“Every single day, you come in and you put your work in and don’t leave anything on the table, and go from there.”
McIntyre’s early struggles can partially be attributed to the quick adjustment period (or lack thereof) at the start of his professional career. The 23-year-old goaltender barely had any time to work with Providence’s coaching staff before being thrown into game-action. However, since the return of Subban (who has been shaky in net, I might add), McIntyre has settled in quite well.
McIntyre posted a .945 save percentage in two appearances so far this month, and has won three of his last four starts, giving up one goal in two of those games, and just two goals in another. Meanwhile, Malcolm Subban has not exactly been up to par in net for Providence this season, which means that McIntyre could be getting more and more ice time as the season goes on. If so, all eyes are on him.
One thing’s for sure, McIntyre won’t be cutting any corners when it comes to his personal training.
“It’s been just coming every day to work, feeling better about my game and where it’s going,” he said. “There’s been a couple flashes of what I can do, but I haven’t reached any expectations quite yet. So just got to keep on working.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the remainder of the season plays out, as it will certainly play a large role in determining the fate of Boston’s goaltending prospects, as well as the future of the organization as a whole.