The Boston Bruins have been going through a bit of a tough stretch lately: Losing three of their last four, blowing third-period leads in a way that few Claude Julien-coached Bruins teams have, and causing the entire city to have a crisis of confidence about whether the team is good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup.
All the nail-biting and finger-pointing in the world — and there's been a lot of both in the last week — does little to actually get to the heart of the issue: There's no really good reason why the Bruins aren't playing especially well right now, or why they can't hold a third-period lead.
Let's start with the very basic fact that none of this, no matter what the media wants to believe, has to do with how "clutch" Tuukka Rask is or isn't. Claude Julien made a comment after the loss in Winnipeg last Tuesday, in which Rask gave up goals less than a minute apart, that the team wasn't getting "timely saves." That was all anyone needed.
Anton Khudobin got a start at Ottawa after that, and the Bruins won 2-1, leading many in the local media, sage surveyors of the sport, to wonder if it was time to start splitting time between the two. This despite the fact that Rask's goals-against average is below 2, and his even strength save percentage is among the best in the League.
Now Rask knows how Roberto Luongo feels, because people are trying to squeeze him out of his job for not being "clutch" with almost 20 games to go in the regular season, despite the fact that his team scored one (1) goal to support him.
And as for Khudobin, the media's heir apparent to Rask's shortly-held throne? Got the hook after giving up three goals on 11 shots to Toronto Saturday night. So it's back to the drawing board there.
When can they call up Malcolm Subban?
That latter fact is the real reason for the Bruins struggles, and one can't imagine it lasts all that much longer. Milan Lucic doesn't have a goal in 15 games. David Krejci has two goals since the beginning of March. Nathan Horton has one. So if you're looking to lay out some blame, you might want to start with the second line, but all anyone's interested in for them is excuse-making.