BOSTON -- Wins are a lot tougher to come by when you don't have a Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes.
That's the case for the Boston Bruins right now.
Boston's No. 1 goalie, Tuukka Rask, is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury that he suffered in a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils last Thursday in the Bruins' home opener. It's the first time in his career that Rask has suffered any type of serious injury, and his status remains uncertain. Backup Anton Khudobin was felled by an upper-body injury during Monday's practice and will be sidelined at least three weeks.
With both goalies hurt, the Bruins are in a bind. Coach Claude Julien had no choice other than to go with inexperience in goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and it resulted in a 5-0 loss to the Wild at TD Garden. Rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre both played.
To be fair: Boston's goaltending wasn't the only reason for the blowout loss. The Bruins had too many defensive breakdowns and zero offensive punch. That's not a recipe for success. It shouldn't matter which goalie is playing, captain Zdeno Chara said.
"Injuries are a part of the game, but we should really respect the way we play and what we want to accomplish and how we want to play," Chara said. "If we're not going to do that, it doesn't really matter who is in net. It's really up to us as players to make sure we play in the right way on the right side of the puck. If we do that, we're going to make the game much better for us."
The Bruins can't afford to fall too far behind in the standings this early in the season. So what will Boston general manager Don Sweeney do if Rask is sidelined long-term? After Tuesday's loss, Julien said he did not have an update on the 29-year-old veteran. Both Subban and McIntyre were preparing to travel with the team to New York to face the Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Subban's only previous NHL experience was a start in St. Louis on Feb. 20, 2015, when he allowed three goals on six shots before he was pulled after 31:15 of ice time in a 5-1 loss. On Tuesday, in his second NHL game, he allowed three goals on 16 shots before he was pulled after 26:31 of ice time and replaced by McIntyre, who had been called up from Providence earlier in the day.
"Yeah, it sucks," Subban said. "Obviously, I'm just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. It sucks, but what can you do now, right?"
Subban, 22, hasn't been the same since he suffered a fractured larynx during a minor league game last February. The injury ended his season with Providence. Before being struck in the throat by a puck in Portland, Maine, Subban had won 9 of 11 games and allowed only 21 goals during that span. Overall, he was 14-8-5 with a .911 save percentage in 27 games for Providence during 2015-16.
At the time of his recall on Monday, he was 0-3-1 with a 4.50 goals-against average in four games for the Bruins' AHL affiliate this season.
The road has always seemed blocked for Subban, who was a first-round selection (No. 24 overall) in 2012 by the Bruins. It doesn't help his cause that Rask is the No. 1 goalie in Boston and is in the fourth year of an eight-year contract worth $56 million.
"I want to be a No. 1 goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, I just have to show it," Subban said. "I haven't done that so far yet, but I think I'm getting closer to it. I think I can do it right now and obviously I didn't do it [Tuesday], but tomorrow's a new day."
While Subban was having success statistically in the AHL -- having a winning record in each of his three full seasons in Providence -- some hockey personnel wondered if his game would translate to the next level. Some question his consistency.
"I don't like the structure of his game," one Eastern Conference evaluator said. "He seems like a guy who could fall apart when he's not on his game."
From a defensive standpoint, Subban got little help. With the exception of Brandon Carlo, Boston's defensemen have struggled. Will McIntyre fare any better? The Bruins are about to find out. He will make his first NHL start on Wednesday.
With Rask in net, the Bruins know they're getting a calm, reliable performance. Without its No. 1, it looks like Boston is in for a struggle.