|Jonas Gustavsson feels he can help Bruins get key points||03.10.16 at 4:58 pm ET|
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.”
|Jonas Gustavsson not cleared to play; Malcolm Subban will back up Tuukka Rask||02.02.16 at 11:39 am ET|
Jonas Gustavsson took a positive step Tuesday by facing shots in the Bruins’ morning skate, but he will remain on injured reserve when the B’s host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
“Cleared to practice, not to play,” Claude Julien said of the goaltender, who is recovering from an elevated heart rate.
With Gustavsson remaining out, Malcolm Subban will be Tuukka Rask‘s backup Tuesday night. Based on morning skate, the lineup figures to be as such:
|Bruins place Jonas Gustavsson on IR, recall Malcolm Subban and David Pastrnak||02.01.16 at 1:54 pm ET|
The Bruins made some roster moves upon returning from the All-Star break, most notably by placing goaltender Jonas Gustsavsson on injured reserve and recalling Malcolm Subban from Providence. David Pastrnak, who was sent to Providence to play games during the break, was also recalled.
Gustavsson had a health scare in last Tuesday’s contest agains the Ducks, as he left the game after one period due to an elevated heart rate and was taken to Mass General hospital. After spending the night in the hospital, he was discharged when preliminary tests came back negative. In a statement released Monday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that Gustavsson was only on IR pending final test results and that the team would take him off upon clearance. Because Gustavsson last played last Tuesday and All-Star break days can count as retroactive IR days, Gustavsson could potentially be able to come off IR as early as Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs.
The 30-year-old netminder has had three different heart procedures since coming to the NHL in 2009. He was on the ice prior to Monday’s practice working with goaltending coach Bob Essensa, but did not appear to be facing any shots. Instead, Gustavsson worked on positioning and puck management outside the net.
Adam McQuaid, who has been out since Jan. 5 with an upper-body injury and remains on IR, also skated Monday. The 29-year-old blueliner took passes from strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides in addition to skating and shooting.
Both Subban and Pastrnak were present for Monday’s practice. It is unclear how long the Bruins will keep Gustavsson out for, but Subban’s recall could potentially give him the opportunity to play his second NHL game. In his only NHL game to date, Subban only faced three shots in the first period, stopping them all, but then allowed goals on the first three shots he saw in the second period before getting pulled against the Blues on Feb. 20.
In 26 games for Providence tis season, Subban has a .913 save percentage, a 2.45 goals against average and one shutout, all of which lead the Baby B’s. The Bruins’ next three games see them host the Maple Leafs and then play the Sabres twice, so if the team were inclined to give him a start, at least it would be in one of their schedule’s more manageable games.
|Bruins offer no update on Jonas Gustavsson after goalie taken to hospital||01.26.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
The Bruins offered no update on the status of goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who left Tuesday’s loss to the Ducks after the first period and was taken to the hospital.
The only word that the Bruins offered was during the game, when they shared that Gustavsson was ill and taken to Mass General. Gustavsson has a history of heart procedures, which led to speculation that the goaltender could have had another such issue.
Asked specifically whether Gustavsson’s situation was heart-related, Claude Julien said he had ‘no idea.’ The Bruins said afterwards that they would not have any update for at least the rest of the day.
Tuukka Rask replaced Gustavsson for the final two periods. He too said he was unaware of Gustavsson’s status.
“He just went to the trainer’s room after the period and that was it,” Rask said. “That’s all I know.”
|Aiming for average: Jonas Gustavsson’s track record makes Bruins’ signing questionable||10.06.15 at 11:41 pm ET|
For starters (OK, backups), the Bruins seemingly already had their No. 2 goalie for the season in Jeremy Smith. That obviously changed when the B’s gave Gustavsson the keys and Smith a ticket to Iowa.
Equally as notable, however, is that Gustavsson being the backup isn’t a particularly safe play. The former Maple Leaf and Red Wing couldn’t stay healthy last season, but that isn’t the extent of his concerns. His .901 career save percentage wasn’t skewed by a bad season or two: In each of his six seasons in the NHL, he has been below the league average in save percentage. It would be optimistic to assume that will change playing behind what could be a rocky defense this season.
Meanwhile, the Bruins backups always were above the league average over the last six seasons, including the discarded Niklas Svedberg last season.
There was no sure thing in the Bruins’ backup goaltending battle. The choice was to either go with the inexperienced Smith (zero NHL games but a .933 save percentage in 39 AHL games last season) or put faith in Gustavsson’s experience despite that it hasn’t been particularly good experience.
“It wasn’t just because of experience,” Claude Julien said. “We looked at different things. At the end of the day we took that direction, and I’m saying this again: We had to make a decision and it could have gone either way, but we made that one based on how we felt. Maybe it’s a slight, slight edge but even we can be wrong and maybe you do get to see Smitty back here again. We’re not saying that this is it [and] this is what we’re going with for the whole season. We’re keeping our options open there as well.”
|Bruins sign Jonas Gustavsson to 1-year deal||10.04.15 at 5:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.
The signing comes as something of a surprise, as 26-year-old Jeremy Smith entered camp as the projected backup for Tuukka Rask. Smith, a former Predators second-round pick who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to Providence, where Subban and Zane McIntyre are already assigned.
Gustavsson played in two games for the Bruins this preseason, stopping 42 of 45 shots he faced for a .933 save percentage. Injuries (most notably a separated shoulder0 limited the 30-year-old to seven NHL games last season, his third season with the Red Wings after playing the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
With his status uncertain late last week, Gustavsson said that he believed that even if he didn’t get a contract with Boston, he felt that he’d answered any questions in his mind as to whether he could bounce back from an injury-plagued season.
“Last year was different,” he said last week. “I had a big injury, so I missed a lot of time there and didn’t play that many games, but the last three months I was on the ice and I worked hard and practiced. I felt like my game was back to where it was before the injury.”
Teams have until 5 p.m. to set their 23-man rosters.
|Jonas Gustavsson enters wait-and-see mode with Bruins||10.02.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Now, the waiting game begins for Jonas Gustavsson.
After going through training camp and playing one and a half preseason games for the Bruins on a professional tryout, the 30-year-old netminder can do nothing but hope that the work he put in was good enough to earn him a contract and a spot on the bench as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
Claude Julien said Friday morning that Gustavsson would not travel with the team for Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals, with Rask starting and Jeremy Smith serving as backup. That means the preseason book is closed on Gustavsson, who stopped 42 of 45 shots over parts of two preseason games for a .933 save percentage.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much; I’m trying to do whatever I usually do – just practice, play games whenever I get a chance to play and have some fun,” Gustavsson said after Friday’s practice. “All the other stuff, that’s not in my hands. I guess I’m waiting, but on the other hand, at the same time, I’m just taking it day-by-day like I always do.”
Smith, a 26-year-old who was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2007, is the favorite to win the backup job after a strong showing last season in Providence. That leaves Gustavsson, who played formerly with the Leafs and Red Wings but was limited to seven games with the Wings by injuries last season, potentially on the outside looking in.
Julien insisted Friday morning that a decision has not been made on the backup goaltender.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there in that decision-making. It’s going to be a group decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at the pros and cons and everything else that goes into it. Unfortunately, that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and give a lot of those guys an opportunity to play even more and us assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is. Tuukka’s got to play. He’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
Gustavsson’s preseason availability was limited by the birth of his first child, which cost him a preseason start that was perhaps made up when he played all of Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Malcolm Subban (who started two preseason games) and Zane McIntyre are already back in Providence having been cut from camp.
Julien has noted that the decision the team makes for Rask’s backup will not necessarily be the team’s final decision. If the team loses confidence in the backup, as the Bruins did with Niklas Svedberg last season, they won’t hesitate to call up Subban and give him his shot. Should Smith get the first crack at the gig, such a scenario would do Gustavsson no good unless he remains unsigned.
Gustavsson saw his injuries create that situation last season in Detroit. As he battled a shoulder injury, AHL callup Petr Mrazek emerged as a starting option for the Red Wings, which made his services no longer required. If Gustavsson does happen to win a job in Boston, he intends to keep it.
“Every time you’re on the ice, you’re trying to prove yourself,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, no matter if you have a contract or not. There’s always going to be competition. You can’t really take any spots for granted, no matter if you’re on a one-way or two-way or tryout or whatever it is. If you’re not going to perform over time, some younger kid or some other goalie’s going to take your spot. There’s only 60 spots in the league and there’s tons of good goalies.”
Gustavsson still considers himself one of them. He’ll have to wait to see if the Bruins agree.