Per the kinetic nature of hockey, the ideal timetable for the Boston Bruins goalie guild for the tone-setting phases of the 2012-13 season is subject to change. With that said, three-year NHL veteran Tuukka Rask and first-year NHL backup Anton Khudobin each have their clear-cut needs to ensure they delve smoothly into their new roles.
For Rask, it is about recapturing and enhancing the stinginess he flaunted when he briefly held the starting slot as a rookie in 2009-10. For Khudobin, it is a matter of giving Rask requisite rest and logging sufficient seasoning without being thrust too quickly into the baptismal fire.
In turn, the primary factor in projecting the short-term distribution of crease time ought to be the expected strength of the opposition with opposing offenses taking slight precedent over the quality of the goaltending counterpart.
Naturally, Rask ought to be scraping the blue paint at TD Garden for the season opener against the roundly braced New York Rangers. Ditto when those teams meet again four nights later at Madison Square Garden and quite possibly the Monday matinee versus Winnipeg in between.
Whether Saturday’s result is favorable or unfavorable, there will be a strong case to start Rask once again when the Jets visit on Monday. If it is a win or even an irreproachable loss, it will be best to try to keep Rask in a rhythm, especially since the mighty Blueshirts will be on tap yet again on Wednesday.
If it is a harder kick in the teeth, then the Bruins brass may want to give their consensus No. 1 netminder a chance to redress his confidence in advance of the rematch in Manhattan.
But Khudobin should have his first look of his first NHL season no later than a week from Friday when the Bruins face the other New Yorkers, the Islanders, in the fourth installment of their schedule.
If that happens, and if it is after Rask plays each of the preceding three games, the timing of Khudobin’s first nod will be beneficial for both backstops.
The string of 48 contests in a span of 99 nights will not yield many big breathers. Accordingly, a five-day gap between a visit to the Rangers, retooled with Rick Nash, and a Jan. 28 visit to the Hurricanes, reformed with Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, is all but a must for the Finnish fortress.
That holds especially true if that visit to the Rangers is going to be his third twirl in another span of five days, or even just his second straight arm-wrestling bout with reigning Vezina recipient Henrik Lundqvist.
The Carolina game will also be the first half of the first set of back-to-back game nights. The latter half on Tuesday, Jan. 29, will have the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils waiting at TD Garden.
Unless rust proves to have gotten the better of the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, the goaltending duel figures to be nothing short of a challenge. But New Jersey’s strike force has taken multiple bumps since falling two wins shy of the Stanley Cup last June.
Captain Zach Parise, he of 31 goals and 69 points last season, has gone to Minnesota and promising rising sophomore Adam Henrique figures to still be recovering from an autumn injury rather than starting to build on his 51-point rookie campaign.
If this arrangement unfolds, it will mean working Rask in for five of the first seven games, Khudobin for two. That may not be a bad ratio to hover around for the full 48-game slate with Rask seeing action on 35 or 36 occasions, Khubodin 12 or 13.