As crazy, obsessed sports fans, we love to critique every move and think that we can run our team much better than the people who are in charge.
In some cases (ahem, the Boston Red Sox), we may actually be right on the majority of topics. But even when we are proven wrong over and over again, it still never stops us from thinking that we know more than the front office and/or the management, and that horribly wrong decisions are being made that will ruin our team.
It takes a big person to admit that not only were they totally incorrect, but the people in charge actually know what the hell they are doing.
Yep, I was wrong about the goaltending situation with the Boston Bruins, and Bruce Cassidy knows way more about hockey than I do.
I was one of the many Bruins fans that were clamoring for Anton Khudobin to replace Tuukka Rask as starting goalie.
There were a multitude of reasons why this seemed like a good idea – Khudobin was undefeated (and still is) in regulation, while Rask was in the midst of the worst season of his career; the team seemed to play much better with Dobby in net as opposed to Rask; Rask was allowing too many soft goals, and many of them were the crippling variety that either halted Boston’s momentum or put the game out of reach; and the B’s were rapidly sinking in the highly competitive Eastern Conference, where they were much closer to the cellar than the Wild Card spots.
It appeared that Cassidy felt the same way I did when he benched Rask for four straight games from November 16th to 24th. Khudobin led the Bruins to their first extended winning streak of the year, which was halted last Sunday with Rask in net.
After that loss to Edmonton, the chatter really got louder. We needed Rask to sit, and we needed to ride the hot hand in net.
It didn’t seem like that hard of a choice. One guy was 7-0-2 with one of the best save percentages and goals against averages in the entire league. The other was 3-8-2 with such bad stats that they didn’t even show up on the first page of the NHL.com page – which has FIFTY goalies on it. It was no coincidence that the winning streak started with Khudobin in net, and ended when Rask ended his week and a half break.
With the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming to town on Wednesday night, it seemed like a no-brainer that Dobby should be in net. And when he wasn’t, many Bruins fans (me included) marked it down as an immediate loss, hated the decision to start Rask, and questioned the sanity and intelligence of Cassidy and the others in charge.
And of course we were wrong.
The Bruins won 3-2, and Rask made some critical stops down the stretch against a potent offense to ensure the victory.
Then Rask and the B’s followed up with a 3-0 victory over the hapless Flyers on Saturday afternoon, which gave the Bruins six wins in their last seven games and Rask his first shutout of the year.
Less than a week ago, when Cassidy stated that he was going with Rask to try to get him back playing at a high level, most of us thought he was crazy (and the rest of us were ignoring the B’s and watching the Celtics instead). The team was finally playing well and getting healthy, and we were going to halt that momentum with a shitty goalie who clearly doesn’t deserve his lofty contract.
Now the team is still playing well, it is inching closer to being completely healthy for the first time this season, and we have two goaltenders who are performing solidly.
The fans thought there was a goalie controversy three games ago, when there was one hot goalie who should be starting and one awful one that was starting. If it was up to us, we probably would have ridden Khudobin into the ground and left Rask on the bench for so long that he either got rusty or disgruntled or both. The result would likely have been having two bad goalies, or one injured goalie and one pissed off goalie.
Bruce Cassidy knew exactly what he was doing. He sat Rask long enough to send a message, then went back to him even in a tough situation, which sent a stronger message that he was still the top guy. If Rask didn’t step up in the last two games, it would have crashed down and the belief that we know more than the coach does would be running rampant.
Now the only thing that is running rampant is the Boston Bruins up the standings.
Which happened because Bruce Cassidy is much smarter than we are. At least until the next losing streak… or the next loss from Tuukka Rask.