- P-BRUINS SEASON IN REVIEW: GOALTENDERS
- Jun 6, 2017
Jun 6, 2017
P-BRUINS SEASON IN REVIEW: GOALTENDERS
The 2016-17 season was one of the best in Providence Bruins history, and as with any great team the goaltending must be strong to succeed. That’s why if there was a singular reason to the P-Bruins success this season, Zane McIntyre’s performance would have to top the list. The 24-year old was a breakout star in his second AHL season with all the accolades to back it up.
McIntyre entered this season as the backup goalie, but a slow start for incumbent starter Malcolm Subban saw the 2010 sixth round pick get his break. After allowing just one goal on 43 shots through his opening three games of the season, McIntyre made his NHL debut for the Bruins in late October before being sent back to Providence December 1. It was then that he really took off, dominating opponents while being named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month. McIntyre was a perfect 9-0-0 in nine appearances during the month, sporting a 1.65 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage while stopping 269 of 284 shots. He allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his nine starts during the month despite facing at least 30 shots seven times.
This run helped McIntyre win his first 15 regulation decisions of the season while getting him named to the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic roster. Finishing the season second in GAA (2.03) and first in save percentage (93.0%), he was also named to the AHL Second All-Star Team and led Providence to the postseason. Taking on the regular season champion Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in the opening round, McIntyre stood on his head to steal the decisive game five on the road. He made a career high 50 saves on 51 shots to help the P-Bruins advance as the became the first team in 21 seasons to knock off the regular season champs in the opening round. Overall in 16 postseason games, he had eight wins with a 2.57 GAA and a 90.6 save percentage.
Subban was forced into backup duty thanks to this dominance, but the fourth year goalie flew under the radar to put a rough start behind him and show off his first round talent. Subban had an abbreviated 2015-16 campaign due to a fractured larynx suffered when he took a puck to the throat in warmups and it took some time to get his confidence back. Through 13 games, he had just two wins, a GAA of 3.27 and a save percentage of 89.4%, but he turned it around in the second half of the season. In his next 10 starts he allowed two or fewer goals nine times including just one goal seven times. He was able to make his season-end numbers respectable, finishing with a 2.41 GAA and a 91.7% save percentage.
With McIntyre getting recalled to Boston a total of six times with two stints for Subban mixed in, Providence relied on two other goalies for brief stints as well. Anton Khudobin was sent to Providence after a tough start as Boston’s backup, but upon coming to the P-Bruins started 5-0-0-1 before eventually making it back up in the NHL. Rookie Dan Vladar spent a majority of the season in the ECHL, but when he had his opportunities in the AHL he thrived. The 19-year old went 4-0-2-1 with a 2.62 GAA and a 92.1% save percentage and figures to spend all of next season with the P-Bruins.
The strong play in net led Providence to a fifth straight postseason and the fifth most points in franchise history, but the question of who returns between the pipes in 2017-18 remains. McIntyre and Subban, who are both restricted free agents, will be competing with Khudobin for Boston’s backup role next season. If McIntyre continues to improve in year three and Subban plays like he did down the stretch, the organization will certainly have options and tough decisions to make going forward.
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The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, playing their home games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Spanning more than 20 years, the Boston/Providence affiliation is one of the longest and most successful player development partnerships in professional hockey history.
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