Zane McIntyre is quite the curious case for the Bruins organization.
The young goaltender has been called up four times already this season by Boston; however, since he has yet to appear in an NHL game this season, fans are starting to wonder if the 2010 sixth-round pick from the University of North Dakota will ever be ready to claim an NHL roster spot on a full-time basis.
For McIntyre, it’s all about learning to maintain his emotions throughout the grind of professional hockey.
“It’s definitely a learning process going through it every day,” McIntyre said after the Providence Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Hartford Wolfpack on Feb. 2. “Having those experiences of seeing these shots and going back [up] and going back down, just kind of riding the wave of pro hockey. It’s been awesome, it’s been exciting. Lot of emotions with it obviously. The biggest thing is controlling those emotions and not get too high and not get too low.”
Composure has certainly been a key for McIntyre, especially with all the highs and lows he has been through in his career. While having a stellar 2016-17 season for Providence which, at one point, saw him displaying an 11-0-0 record and leading the American Hockey League in goals-against average, save percentage, and wins, McIntyre simultaneously went 0-4-1 with a 3.96 GAA and a .858 SV% in eight games played with Boston during the 16′-17′ campaign.
This season, McIntyre has seen his numbers dip slightly. He currently sports a 15-10-3 record with a 2.70 GAA and a .904 SV%, ranking him toward the middle of the pack among AHL goaltenders. To be fair, the netminder has seen action in 30 games already this season, as opposed to seeing a combined total of 31 in his previous two years. Perhaps fatigue has played a role in McIntyre’s game of late.
Even with the dip in production, McIntyre had a great stretch back in late January; he stopped all 28 shots he faced in a 1-0 win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Jan. 19. Two days later he repeated the feat to a T, stopping 28 shots for a 2-0 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
That marked the first time in his career that McIntyre has posted shutouts in consecutive starts, thus earning him CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors. Yet, just last week, it was Providence backup Jordan Binnington — not McIntyre — who was selected to the AHL All-Star Classic.
Nevertheless, the Minnesota native welcomes the competition from Binnington and feels there isn’t anything wrong with some healthy competition.
“The competition’s great,” McIntyre said. “It definitely pushes everybody. I think [Binnington] and I have a great relationship, too, so it helps that we push each other day in and day out.”
Of course, McIntyre is no stranger to competition from his backups. Earlier in his career, McIntyre split time with both Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith. However, he clearly established himself as the P-Bruins’ number one goaltender, garnering the majority of starts come playoff time.
Despite good numbers from Binnington in recent contests, McIntyre still stakes his claim as starter. Being pushed is certainly not something new to him — nor is it something he can’t handle.
Also within McIntyre’s realm is the ability to improve. Given his experiences and his track record, he has the potential to work himself into the conversation as one of the AHL’s top goaltenders. According to the man himself, all that needs to be done is hard work each and every day.
“It just comes on a daily basis,” McIntyre explained. “Just doing the work in practice, work in the weight room. Obviously in the games, [I have to] perform well, making the saves I should make and also make one or two that robs someone.”
All in all, it certainly has been a curious season for Zane McIntyre. From a solid rookie season, to a stellar sophomore campaign, to now an average season with some unspectacular showings during his brief stints in Boston, the young netminder continues to try and make a name for himself in Providence. Backstopping a P-Bruins team currently sitting in third in the Atlantic Division and constantly improving on a daily basis are definitely ways to achieve that.