|12.02.16 at 12:04 am ET|
On the first of December and still without a victory to his name, though in just three prior games, Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was a man possessed Thursday night in a 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes that featured stops on all but one of the 30 shots thrown his way.
Behind a Black and Gold group that was just flat as can be through the opening 40 minutes of play, Khudobin held the fort behind 11 first period stops, and even stopped a 4-on-0 chance the other way before the ‘Canes finally broke through on a Noah Hanifin power-play goal 7:37 into the second period. Khudobin even made two gigantic breakaway stops, the first on the aforementioned 4-on-0 the other way on Jeff Skinner, and another, again on Skinner, in overtime.
“Very good,” Bruins bench boss Claude Julien said of Khudobin’s play in the win. “He deserves a lot of accolades tonight, the way he played, the way he responded after being out such a long time. He made some big plays for us, solid in the shootout. You couldn’t ask more from him and there’s no doubt that there was a lot of confidence that grew in that dressing room by watching his play and knowing that we have two goaltenders that can play extremely well for us.”
Very good, actually, might be an undersell on Julien’s part.
|12.01.16 at 9:56 pm ET|
Shockingly, between three other goaltenders and 23 games into their season, the Bruins still did not have a win by a goaltender not named Tuukka Rask. But after an improbable 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes at TD Garden, Anton Khudobin is finally on the board.
And in one of the sleepiest hockey games you will see this year, and maybe this decade for that matter, Khudobin did just about everything he could the Black and Gold in it against Cam Ward.
Peppered at will by his former club in an 11-shot first period, the 30-year-old Khudobin made stop after stop, and that carried on over into the second period, when the Kazakh backstop came up with a stop on the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner on a 3-on-0 his way. (It may have even a 4-on-0 had one of the ‘Canes noticed what was up ahead of him.)
But just seconds after that stop, the dam on Khudobin finally gave way in the form of a Noah Hanifin power-play bomb that simply went through No. 35 and into the B’s net for Hanifin’s second goal of the season. Although the Bruins had little jump in this game, the Hanifin bullet didn’t help energize the Bruins one bit, as they put just seven shots on Ward in the middle period, and were en route to their second straight defeat after 29 shots — and few real chances — on the veteran Ward.
But it was on the 30th shot of the night that the Bruins finally found an answer.
With the net empty for a 6-on-5 advantage, and David Backes camped out in front of the Carolina net, a kick from Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen made its way into the ‘Canes crease and into through Ward for a 1-1 draw with just 31.5 seconds to go.
The goal was credited to Torey Krug, while David Pastrnak and David Krejci picked the assists.
Onto their second overtime period in three nights, the Bruins’ best chance came on a Krug net-front opportunity stoned by a splitting Ward, and was shortly followed up by a penalty drawn by ex-Hurricane Riley Nash that put the Bruins on a 4-on-3 power-play opportunity. But while the passing game remained sharp, the shot game stayed cold, even on the 4-on-3 and with Ward’s vision blinded by first Backes and then Matt Beleskey, as the Bruins rang high glass with incredible regularity.
In a shootout, again, for the second time in three nights, the first round began with a Ryan Spooner gloveside goal on Ward, while Jacob Slavin countered with a pretty goal of his own on Khudobin. The second round came up with stops from Ward and Khudobin, while Pastrnak deked Ward out of his pants for a goal in the top of the third.
And with a chance to seal the deal on his first win of the season, Khudobin came up with the stop and put a ‘W’ next to his name for the first time this year, behind a straight-up stellar 29-of-30 performance.
Here are four other things we learned in an improbable thievery on B’s ice
|12.01.16 at 7:04 pm ET|
Riley Nash was more than surprised to find a crowd of reporters in front of his locker at Warrior Ice Arena this morning.
“What’d I do?” a genuinely curious Nash asked.
Apparently, Nash forgot to check the calendar and notice that tonight is his first head-to-head with his former team, the Hurricanes, at TD Garden. But, really, it’s all you need to know about Nash’s vendetta against the organization he called his own for six seasons.
It doesn’t exist.
“It’s a little different, I’ve never had this feeling before,” Nash, who spent a Wednesday off-day catching up with his old teammates, including former roommate Jutin Faulk, said. “You don’t really miss a beat when you see those guys.”
But the fact that theyr’e considered his former teammates does seem a little odd. Despite the Hurricanes’ effort to get younger, Nash is only 27 years old, and ended his final season with the club with five goals and 13 points in his final 27 contests.
Still, there’s no ill will on Nash’s part.
“It’s business,” Nash noted. “They wanted to go in a new direction. And I think that’s pretty much it.
|12.01.16 at 5:11 pm ET|
Bruins winger Brad Marchand is no stranger to outbursts. Marchand is also no stranger to current Canadiens agitator Andrew Shaw. The two have history dating back to Shaw’s days with the Blackhawks, and even dropped the gloves in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
So, safe to say that Marchand had some thoughts on Shaw’s complete and total meltdown after a penalty assessed his way in the final moments of a 2-1 Tuesday night loss to the Ducks.
In case you didn’t click the link above, Shaw smashed his own stick to absolute bits inside the penalty box, dropped about a dozen f-bombs on the referees, was given the gate, and then punched an entire rack of unbroken sticks on his way back to the Habs’ locker room.
“Oh, he showed those sticks,” Marchand said with a grin.
“I think we all get frustrated,” Marchand, a player having taken more than his share of penalties similar to that of Shaw’s game-ending call, admitted, noting the frustration that can come when you’re whistled for a call that late in a close game. “You know, I’ve learned — well I’m still learning — [there’s] not a whole lot you can do at that time. It is what it is, and guys are emotional at that time in a game.”
Whistled for 182 penalties since the start of the 2010 season, including eight majors, four misconducts, and two game misconducts, the 28-year-old Marchand hangs his hat on one positives from his own meltdowns.
“I didn’t lose it as bad as [Tuukka Rask] when he threw the pucks over the glass,” Marchand joked. “So I feel good about that.”
|12.01.16 at 2:57 pm ET|
What does the second-most goals in the NHL get you? Well, I’m not sure to be honest, but I can tell you that it does not get your name on the ballot for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Not if you’re Bruins winger David Pastrnak, anyways.
Despite his 13 goals and 17 points in 18 games played this season, the 20-year-old was not among the four Bruins featured on the ballot that dropped earlier today for Atlantic Division representation in this year’s weekend festivities at the Staples Center. Instead, the ballot featured Pastrnak’s linemates, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, along with defenseman Zdeno Chara, and goaltender Tuukka Rask.
In comparison to Pastrnak’s stats on the year among other forwards on the team (and more specifically those put on the ballot), only Marchand is close, with seven goals and 20 points in 23 contests. Bergeron has tallied just three goals and six points in 20 games played. Bergeron, of course, was the lone Bruins rep at last year’s All-Star weekend in Nashville.
And among the 16 other forwards featured within the Atlantic over Pastrnak, only the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk (19) and Lightning top-liner Nikita Kucherov (26) have recorded more points than No. 88 in black and gold has this year.
It’s still possible for Pastrnak to get into the game, of course, once the team captains are named and if the voting then expands. If not, however, Pastrnak will have get in via a write-in campaign.
|12.01.16 at 1:23 pm ET|
On the ice for the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s another day closer to a return for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Unfortunately for the Bruins, though, that day is not today, as Chara will miss tonight’s matchup against the visiting Hurricanes and his fifth straight contest overall.
“He’s out there skating,” confirmed Claude Julien, “but not playing tonight.”
In four games without Chara, the Bruins are 1-2-1, and have allowed eight goals over that stretch. Dating back to Chara’s exact absence, which came after just one shift in the second period of Nov. 22’s loss to the Blues (the Blues scored all four of their goals with No. 33 out), the Bruins have been outscored 12-to-9.
Though their record does not show it, the Bruins have remained a stingy defensive unit in Chara’s absence, with just 107 shots allowed (26.8 shots against per game) in those four sans Chara contests. But perhaps no performance was more impressive than Tuesday’s effort in Philly — in a shootout loss, naturally — in which the Bruins peppered Steve Mason for 47 shots on goal while only allowing 21 at the other end of the rink.
“We’ve hung in there,” Julien said of his team’s recent defensive performances without both Chara and now John-Michael Liles (out indefinitely with a concussion). “Last game we give up two early goals — one power-play and one even strength — and for the rest of the game, we managed to shut them out. Good goaltending helps, but at the same time I think we really minimized the scoring team’s opportunity that night. [The Flyers] didn’t have as many scoring chances as they normally do.”
Down Chara and Liles for the second straight contest, the defensive pairings are expected to remain the same after a morning skate without much change, with Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the club’s de facto top pairing, Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo paired as the club’s shutdown unit, and Joe Morrow and Colin Miller as the team’s third pair.
|12.01.16 at 8:28 am ET|
Send questions for next week’s mailbag to email@example.com or @RearAdBsBlog on Twitter.
How will the Bruins fare in December with 16 games in 31 days? — Dan, Wakefield, MA
Obviously much better if they get Zdeno Chara back soon. Despite the many games, the team never leaves the Eastern time zone, and South Florida is the longest trip. The B’s can’t wrap up a playoff spot before 2016 ends, but they can certainly dig themselves a tough hole. The guess here is that they bob and weave through the month with an 8-5-3 record.
David Krejci is due $7.25M for four more years after this season. Do the Bruins try to move him? — Steve, Hyde Park, MA
I think they’d move any player if the right deal came along (or, in the case of the B’s, the wrong deal). But if you’re a GM, do you want an underperforming, finicky pivot who presumably will get slower at that number? I don’t. I think the team is giving him plenty of rope after his offseason hip surgery because the healing can be notoriously long and I wouldn’t count him out yet. But he needs to stop being bored by the regular season or he’ll miss yet another postseason.
What’s your take on the Las Vegas Golden Knights? — Jason, Nashua, NH
I love that Vegas finally has a pro team in any sport because it’s been way too long due to outdated, puritanical thinking about gambling. But that name almost makes me wish they take it back. I know the new owner is a big West Point guy and was intent on working “knights” into the name. But the name and logo are both very underwhelming. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, only the team’s play does. But it definitely feels like a squandered opportunity from a marketing perspective.
Florida surprisingly fired Gerrard Gallant. Does Tom Rowe get them to the playoffs? — Danny, Plymouth, MA
Gallant’s canning seemingly came out of nowhere and blindsided his players. The popular bench boss was let go due to “philosophical differences” with the now analytics-heavy front office. This is Massachusetts native Rowe’s first NHL head coaching gig. He last coached in 2015 in Portland, Maine, before joining the parent club’s staff (he also was the first American to score 30 goals in the NHL). Either due to injury and/or subpar play, The Panthers’ goaltending will keep them on the outside looking in when April gets here.
Is this the year Dallas finally takes it to another level? — Ricky, Auburn, MA
If the Stars upgrade the goaltending. Antti Niemi and/or Kari Lehtonen aren’t going to get them there. But the problem is finding a team willing to take one of those contracts off their hands. Paying $5.9 million for Lehtonen or $4.5 million for Niemi just isn’t a smart move for a GMs until the pot is really sweetened. But the Stars’ window is now, so they better fix their net issues soon.