Jonas Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson feels he can help Bruins get key points

DJ Bean
March 10, 2016 - 11:58 am

The Bruins have 14 games remaining. Nine of them are against teams currently in playoff position. A season ago, that might have meant 14 games for Tuukka Rask. After all, Rask started 16 of the Bruins' final 17 games of the season in what, despite a strong performance from the starter, proved to be a fruitless push to reach the playoffs. Everyone knows why Rask played so much down the stretch last season: The Bruins needed to win the games and they didn't have any confidence in Niklas Svedberg, their backup goaltender. As such, Rask was a busy man. This season, the Bruins might not need the points as much to get into the playoffs, but they certainly have something for which to play. Securing the top seed in the Atlantic Division would mean setting up one or two potentially winnable playoff series against teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Florida. So while there's plenty of motivation to keep going to Rask, the Bruins like this season's backup goaltender a lot better. Coming off his best game as a Bruin, Jonas Gustavsson is eager to provide the Bruins with big points the way he did in a 42-save shutout against the Lightning Tuesday. Claude Julien downplayed the number of shots against the Bruins have allowed of late, saying that the 42 that Gustavsson faced Tuesday were not as difficult as the 51 Rask faced Monday. Gustavsson agreed that keeping shots to the outside limited Tampa's prime chances, but he still needed to come up with critical stops against the likes of Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov. "There's always going to be those chances when you need to step up," Gustavsson said. "I was able to do that, but all in all I think we've played a really solid defensive game." Gustavsson has good numbers this season (his .916 save percentage is three points behind Rask), but he has not always passed the eye test. Rebound control is his biggest issue, but at the very least he has provided the B's with a backup they trust. That's huge when considering that Malcolm Subban is not currently an option due to the larynx surgery he had to receive last month. The Bruins have two back-to-backs remaining, so there's a good chance Gustavsson will play again next weekend in California and later this month when the B's play in New York and then host the Panthers the next night. Those are good teams the Bruins will be playing; they won't be able to play Rask the rest of the way like they did a season ago. "I saw that he played a lot, but it's tough when you're not part of the team to really know what's going on," Gustavsson said. "Maybe they were in a different position points-wise as well. Right now we're in pretty good position, but the most important thing is we keep getting better as a group and keep getting those points. If that includes me playing more games than the backup goalie played last year, we'll see. I'll just take it day-by-day."