Sunday, September 15, 2013
Backup goalie spot up for grabs
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- There are four goalies in Bruins camp battling for the backup role behind starter Tuukka Rask.
Chad Johnson, Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban are all vying for that job in a healthy competition.
“It’s been good,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think when you look at the candidates, we’ve got some pretty good depth. From the fact that Chad Johnson has looked really good and Svedberg, who proved himself in the American League last year, and your first-round pick, Subban, who obviously is a little young and may not be ready right away but who knows when he’ll be ready as far as it could be sooner than later.
“So we’ve got some good competition back there and the competition has probably better depth than what most people think, so I’m comfortable with what I’ve seen and I think they understand that. Those guys that are battling for that backup spot understand what’s at stake. They’re certainly trying to be at their best here.”
Svedberg, 23, was outstanding for Providence last season, recording a 37-8-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 48 regular-season games.
Johnson, 27, has spent the majority of his career in the AHL and has 10 games of NHL experience between the New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes. He signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000 in July.
Subban, 19, enters his first professional season and is expected to be the starting goalie for the P-Bruins.
Adam Morrison, 22, also is in camp. He spent the majority of the 2012-13 season in the ECHL.
Svedberg has played well during camp and he’s looking forward to the challenge of the preseason games.
“It’s been good,” Svedberg said. “It’s good intensity and guys are competing hard. It’s really nice to start off the season and get going right away. It’s been fun.”
Since Rask will play the majority of the games during the season, the backup’s ice time will be limited. Still, it’s a position all four candidates would rather play than getting more playing time in the minors.
“You want to play, but at the same time you want to come up to the highest level,” Svedberg said. “My only mindset now is to make the team here and to be in the NHL. That’s all my focus goes to now and we’ll see how well I play and see what happens after that. But at this moment I’m just focused on being here and staying here.”
Svedberg served as the Bruins’ black ace goalie during the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. It was a valuable experience, and even though he’s still developing and honing his skills, Julien believes if the young goalie is ready for the NHL level, then that’s where he’ll be.
“That remains to be seen. I think if he’s ready, he’s ready. It’s as simple as that,” Julien said. “If we feel he’s ready to be a backup here, we’ll make him a backup here. I think if he earns a job I have no issues with him being here even if he’s got one year in the American League. He had a great year last year and if we feel he’s ready, then make that jump.”