Could there actually be another chance for Zane McIntyre?
It may come at a big price, but the fourth-year Providence Bruins netminder could be making a trip up I-95 South after the Boston Bruins return from their bye week depending on Tuukka Rask’s status. The Finnish veteran — and soon to be the winningest goaltender in franchise history — exited Saturday’s game with the New York Rangers following a collision with Filip Chytil during the team’s 3-2 loss at TD Garden.
Of course, the big club’s No. 1 goalkeeper winner has the entire bye week and All-Star weekend to recover from his recent concussion. But McIntyre will be ready in a moments notice if Rask doesn’t clear concussion protocol. Of course, this assumes that Boston GM Don Sweeney doesn’t sign a free agent, or bring someone out of retirement, which would have been the case this past weekend with current NESN analyst and former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft.
“I just have to take advantage of the opportunity,” McIntyre said, “I just have to stop more pucks and go from there.”
McIntyre getting brought back up to Boston is something most fans probably won’t be too excited about. The former North Dakota standout sports a 0-4-1 record with a 3.97 goals-against average and .858 save percentage in his eight career NHL contests. His last appearance in a Boston uniform came on Feb. 4, 2017, coming in relief of Rask in a 6-5 loss to Toronto.
A potential McIntyre callup could very well come at the right time. The Providence stalwart has won each of his last six starts and is on pace to set career highs in games and minutes played at the AHL level.
“I haven’t heard anything about that,” Providence head coach Jay Leach said about McIntyre’s potential promotion. “It’s all speculation but certainly Zane’s performance the last few games could certainly warrant that.”
But, even with a 14-8-3 record this season, McIntyre’s numbers in other key goaltender categories are somewhat of a statistical oddity. He currently sits seventh in the AHL in wins and 19th in goals-against average (2.76) but ranks 45th among qualified goaltenders in save percentage (.885).
A season removed from leading the league in shutouts with seven, the 2017 AHL All-Star is still searching for his first clean sheet of the season.
“I just have to stop more pucks,” McIntyre said about his season to date.
The highlight of McIntyre’s season came during the P-Bruins’ 6-2 triumph over the Hershey Bears on Dec. 15. He earned his 68th career victory in a Baby B’s uniform and surpassed John Grahame for most wins in franchise history.
The Bruins won’t tip their cap on Rask’s status or McIntyre’s potential callup until they return from the bye week. McIntyre will stay busy down in Providence for now as he hopes to backstop the P-Bruins to a late-season push while preparing for to make the trek if needed.
“I have to play my role,” McIntyre said after notching career victory No. 74 over the Hartford Wolfpack on Monday. “My role is to stop the puck, pretty simple. Just make the saves that I can make and go from there. As far as team-wise, we have to keep playing our game, playing our system. If we get our skating-legs, there aren’t many teams that we can’t play well against.”
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