The Boston Bruins are visiting Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Wednesday night with their goaltending in disarray.
Perennial Vezina Trophy candidate Tuukka Rask is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and primary backup Anton Khudobin is out three weeks with an upper-body injury. Faced with an unenviable decision, Bruins coach Claude Julien turned to 22-year-old Malcom Subban against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night and watched his young netminder allow three goals on 16 shots in a 5-0 loss.
Julien yanked Subban midway through the second period, but 24-year-old Zane McIntyre yielded two goals on 17 shots.
"It sucks," Subban said to the media after the game. "You want to at least try to finish the game, let alone win one. You look at what you could have done. Quick turnaround tomorrow. We play the Rangers. I just have to try to correct my mistakes next game."
Rask's day-to-day tag means he could be back Wednesday, but if he's not, either Subban or McIntyre will be thrown to the wolves to face one of the NHL's fastest and top offensive teams.
The Rangers are averaging 3.67 goals per game, the third-best mark in the early stages of the season. Their speed could give them an edge against a slower Bruins team playing the second half of a back-to-back set on the road.
The real surprise for the Rangers this season has been the strong play of their defense, which was expected to be a weakness after losing Keith Yandle to free agency. The unit was already suspect before Yandle's departure but the Rangers have been dominating possession and limiting chances through six games.
That combination of speed and quickness has translated into a well-rounded game at both ends of the ice.
"It seems a lot of times in our own end we're finding spots where we can outnumber the opposition, make it real hard for them to make plays," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said to the New York Daily News on Tuesday. "It hasn't been perfect, but I do believe we're on the right track as far as playing when we don't have the puck the way we have to play.
"I think that part is permitting us to do the other step, which is create opportunities on the rush and to get the proper movement in the offensive end. For me, it all revolves around there. When you play well when you don't have the puck and you're quick to your assignments and you're quick to check and you're quick to stick-on-puck, you make it very hard on the opposition."
The Rangers played three of their first five games without regular defenseman Dan Girardi, which resulted in new faces like Adam Clendening, Nick Holden and Brady Skjei playing key minutes. Clendening went to the press box with Girardi returned Sunday and there wasn't a noticeable drop in the defense group's play.
"We're pretty confident," Rangers captain and defenseman Ryan McDonagh said to the New York Daily News. "Obviously it's going to be a test every night. We're not really thinking about last year. We've kind of got new faces and a new group up front and a few in the back, but I just like the fact that we're communicating and we're making really good reads, understanding when we're in trouble and when it's time to be aggressive or be patient."