BostonBruins.com - With Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson and Malcolm Subban already getting their chance to start a preseason game between the pipes, Thursday night in Winnipeg against the Jets will be Niklas Svedberg's turn.
"He’s getting a full game [Thursday]," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the team's skate at TD Garden on Wednesday, before making the trip north of the border.
"And that means that we still have to look at him closely and decide which one of the two we’re going to start with."
The other goalie in question, of course, is Chad Johnson. The netminder made a case for himself in the 2-0 shutout of Detroit, stopping all 18 shots he faced, though he received ample help from his skaters in front of him (nothing new for the B's solid defensive system) and one game isn't necessarily the deciding factor for Julien and the B's brass on who will remain with the club as the backup to start 2013-14.
Johnson has proven his game over the years to be strong at the AHL level and with his 10 NHL games of experience suiting up for the Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Rangers (he has a 1.97 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in those games), but would say he still has much to prove.
Now, Svedberg will get his chance, albeit in only one game as a starter, to further establish himself during camp with Boston after being named the AHL Goalie of the Year last season in Providence, putting up a 2.17 goals-against average and 37-8-2 record.
In Svedberg's spoked-B debut, playing half the game in the B's 3-2 shootout win over the Caps in Baltimore (Rask played the first half), he stopped 12 of 13 shots through regulation and overtime. He followed that up with six saves in the shootout, as Carter Camper got the B's the win in the eighth round.
"I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be fun," said Svedberg, of getting his first start of the preseason. "It's going to be good to get a full game with this team."
"Obviously there's two spots so there's some competition, but the biggest thing for me is to just focus on my game and myself, and try to make the best out of my situation. If I make the best out of what I can do; it's up to me to play my best game here, and then we'll see after that."
It's true for skaters, but even more so for goaltenders: game situations are more telling than practices.
"To be honest with you I don’t put too much value in those practices," said Julien, of evaluating netminder like Svedberg during camp. "I said it before, there’s guys that get lit up in practice but you can’t get a puck by them in the game and vice-versa."
"So, to me, it’s evaluating guys in game situations; as long as he has good work ethic in practice and has a good attitude, I’m good with that but at the end of the day, it’s what you do in game situations."
"So this is the opportunity, we’re going to have to see him [Thursday]."
Unlike forwards and defensemen at camp, who often get the opportunity for at least four or five games to make an impression, goalies have to make the most of the limited time they get between the pipes.
"A little bit more this year because we were talking about four guys here," agreed Julien. "Malcolm had played really well in Montreal and he’s a first round pick and you wanted to see where he’s at, so we felt that they all deserved at least a game."
"And talking to Tuukka, he was good with just a few full games, it was a long year last year and he feels pretty good in nets and he had that first part of the Baltimore game as well."
"So I think overall we were able to make it work and it might be tougher for them, but it doesn’t make it any easier on us either having to evaluate them that quickly."
Svedberg acknowledged the difficult nature of the situation, but knows that it's not something to dwell on.
"That's the way it is. You have to try to take advantage of your chances you get so that's the way it is every level," said Svedberg. "You're going to get a few chances to begin with, and you've got to try to make the best of it."