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Torey Krug finally gets his chance on the big stage

04.04.12 at 10:30 am ET
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Not all rookies get their chance to make their NHL debut playing for the defending Stanley Cup champs the week before they begin their title defense.

But with the Northeast Division salted away again and their No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference sealed, the Bruins had the ideal chance to baptize 20-year-old defenseman Torey Krug into the world of big boys hockey Tuesday night against a team with names like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Welcome to the show, kid.

“I think stepping on the ice the start of the game,” Krug said of his biggest moment during Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Penguins, his first game in the NHL. “What the coaching staff did was have me warm up a few games with the team and that actually helped a lot. You wouldn’€™t think it, but it really does. You get your bearings on the ice, skating around with the other guys.

“I mean I’€™m most upset that we lost. The expectation here is to win and we have to fine-tune-up before the playoffs.”

Krug has played on big stages before, playing collegiately for Michigan State in the CCHA. He’s played against the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State. But clearly, Tuesday was a different animal.

“It’€™s a lot different,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to play in front of these fans. Michigan State, the crowd we had there was very intimate and into the game and I feel it was the same here. Everybody knows their stuff and they know hockey so the fans are unbelievable and it’€™s something I look forward to on a nightly basis.”

Krug, who turns 21 on April 12, was signed to an NHL entry contract on March 25. He skated with the Bruins last Tuesday in practice and dressed on Thursday but was a healthy scratch. After a week, he was ready to make his debut Tuesday against one of the most talented teams in hockey.

“I thought he handled himself well,” his coach Claude Julien said. “I like the way he moved the puck. I think everybody who knows the game realized that he’€™s a good puck-mover, his mobility was obvious, and the only thing I would tell you is that you could see him in the defensive zone really thinking about trying to play within our system, and sometimes he was maybe just a fraction of a second delayed ‘€“ which is totally normal ‘€“ but once he knew what he had to do, he went. So there was no hesitation once his mind was made up, and that will only get better as it becomes second nature, and that’€™s totally, as I said, totally natural for a guy playing in his first game. But the rest of it — as I said, when he had the puck, didn’€™t hesitate, thought he moved it well and made great passes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Michigan State, NHL, Torey Krug

Andy Brickley on D&C: Johnny Boychuk injury ‘didn’t look good’

04.04.12 at 9:45 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss the state of the team heading into the playoffs, the injury to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, as well as the embellishment rule, among other things.

In the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Penguins Tuesday night, Boychuk went down on the ice and had to be helped off by teammates without being able to put any weight on his injured left leg. Boychuk is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday, but Brickley said that the injury might very well be a costly one.

‘€œI have some experience with bad knee injuries and I didn’€™t like the way that one looked,” Brickley said. “I’€™m hoping that he’€™s young enough and he’€™s durable enough that he can withstand it and that it’€™s not a long-term injury. It didn’€™t look good.”

With only a handful of games remaining before the regular season comes to an end, it can be hard for some playoff-bound teams to maintain their focus on their final games. Brickley said that regardless of the circumstances, teams like the Bruins just have to keep playing hard.

“The intention is in the final three games when you know you’€™re not changing slots as far as who you play in the first round, you’€™ve still got to play the game at 100 percent, you’€™ve got to play it hard and you’€™ve got to play it in the right way,” Brickley said. “The minute you start taking short cuts or you don’€™t play at 100 percent, real bad things happen.”

The Bruins are a team that’s not unfamiliar with facing opposing players that dive, and they experienced it Tuesday night as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang acted as if he were hit the face with a stick from a Bruins player. However, the embellishment rule, which penalizes players for for diving, was not called in that instance, something Brickley thought was a mistake.

“Anytime a player snaps his head back like that as if he got a stick in the face when it’€™s not even close, it’€™s akin to taking a dive when somebody tries a very subtle poke,” Brickley said. “You see guys put one hand on their stick, put it in the midsection of a player and the player flops. There was a time when they really started cracking down on the diving penalties and that’€™s basically embellishment and that’€™s what you saw last night except it was the snap of the neck by Letang.

“It goes to the integrity of the game and the integrity of the player. It’€™s a man’€™s game played by men, and you hate to see when players do that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Kris Letang,

Sidney Crosby leads Penguins past Bruins

04.03.12 at 10:08 pm ET
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Sidney Crosby had two goals as the Penguins beat Marty Turco and the Bruins by a 5-3 score Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Crosby and Paul Martin, but Benoit Pouliot made it a one-goal game late in the period by beating Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson with a nifty backhander. Milan Lucic tied it just 18 seconds into the second, but the Penguins cashed in on a 5-on-3 by getting power-play goals from James Neal and Crosby to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. The Pens would add to it when Aaron Asham scored his fifth of the season in the third period to make it 5-3, and though the Bruins responded with Rich Peverley‘s 11th goal of the season, they were unable to make it any closer.

Turco took the loss for the Bruins, stopping 22-of-27 shots and falling to 1-2-0 since signing with Boston last month.

The Bruins will play their likely first-round playoff opponent Thursday when they travel to Ottawa to face the Senators.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Johnny Boychuk left the game with just over 13 minutes remaining in the third period. Boychuk appeared to injure his knee while going for an open-ice hit on Asham, and he remained on the ice and was joined by trainer Don DelNegro before being helped off the ice by Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly. He did not return to the game.

— The Bruins fell victim to a couple of bad calls in the second period that both resulted in Penguins goals. Seconds after Daniel Paille was sent off for charging for his hit on Matt Niskanen, Peverley was given a high-sticking penalty on a play in which Kris Letang clearly embellished. Neal scored his 40th of the season with the Penguins on the 5-on-3, and Crosby made it 4-2 with Peverley still in the box. Peverley’s stick did not touch Letang’s face, but the Pittsburgh defenseman whipped his head back, resulting in the call.

Patrice Bergeron‘s line had been playing well for the Bruins in recent games, but the line was a minus-2 after two periods. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin managed to put pucks on net, including a Seguin shot on a 2-on-0 in the second period, but the line failed to produce a goal and was on the ice for two Pittsburgh tallies, while Bergeron was on the ice for the Penguins’ first four goals. In addition to failing to cash in on the 2-on-0 with Marchand, Seguin was stopped by Johnson on a pair of breakaways.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

— Pouliot’s goal, his 15th of the season, gave him a career-high 31 points this season. Aside from last season’s 79-game campaign with the Canadiens (13 goals, 17 assists, 30 points), Pouliot has spent much of his career unable to play a full season at the NHL level due to either injury or performance. He’s been able to put together a solid season in Boston, coming three goals short of Michael Ryder‘s production in Ryder’s last two seasons with the Bruins.

— Though he was the recipient of a debatable charging penalty, Paille was extra physical Tuesday night. He also put a big hit on Asham that nearly sent the Penguins forward into the Bruins bench in the second period.

— The B’s top line of David Krejci between Lucic and Peverley was productive for the B’s, producing two goals. Krejci had a nice backhanded dish to Lucic to set up the Bruins’ second goal, and the center picked up helpers on both of his line’s goals. All three players finished with multiple-point nights, as Lucic and Peverley each had a goal and an assist.

— Good on defenseman Andrew Ference for not only taking on but taking down a much bigger opponent in Neal. The two fought in a spirited bout in the second period, with Ference getting the decision.

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Marty Turco, Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin

Bruins-Penguins Live Blog: Marty Turco gets the start

04.03.12 at 7:42 pm ET
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Bruins-Penguins Live Blog

What will Anton Khudobin’s role with the Bruins be?

04.03.12 at 12:58 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin has been through the playoffs with the Bruins before, but after being called up by the team Monday, the possibility exists that he could actually dress this time.

Khudobin (pronounced hoo-DOE-bin) served as one of Boston’s black aces, or practice players, for the postseason last year. He was on the ice with them both in practice and after Game 7 in Vancouver, hoisting the Stanley Cup with the other Bruins and black aces.

“It was good for experience,” Khudobin said. “How you prepare before the games, especially in the playoffs. Playoffs is a big hard run, so just how to get ready before the game and be helpful all the time, be with energy all the time and be focused in the game, every game, every shift, every minute.”

Given the uncertainty of Tuukka Rask‘s situation, Khudobin could actually be on the team’s roster when the playoffs open next Thursday. Rask is still recovering from an abdomen strain/groin strain, and though he is expected to begin skating this week, he might not be ready for the start of the postseason. Marty Turco cannot be on the playoff roster because he was signed after the trade deadline.

“We’ve got to see where Tuukka is” Claude Julien said Tuesday of whether Khudobin will dress in the playoffs. “If Tuukka isn’t ready, then Anton’s got to be ready because Marty can’t play in the playoffs. That’s clear to us, that’s clear to him and the way Tuukka’s going right now, he’s heading in the right direction. Where are going to be in a week and a half from now? I really don’t know.”

Said Khudobin: “Right now, it’s not a question for that. Tuukka maybe is getting ready to play, maybe not. I’m going to do my job right now, practicing every day. Today I had practice, game, tomorrow [another] practice. I’m just living every day.”

The 25-year-old Khudobin has six games of NHL experience, all of which came over the last two seasons as a member of the Wild. In 44 games with Providence this season, he has a 21-19-3 record with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

At the time of Rask’s injury, Khudobin was out with a wrist injury he suffered on Feb. 25 while shooting in a game against Bridgeport. The injury likely played a part in the B’s having to sign Turco, but Khudobin expressed no frustration that his injury likely cost him some time at the NHL level.

“Sometimes it happens in hockey,” he said. “[Maybe they would have] called me up, but I was hurt too. I just tried to keep moving forward, and finally the time to come up was yesterday.”

Since returning to action on March 23, Khudobin has played in four games for Providence, compiling a 2-2-0 record while allowing 11 goals.

“I’m feeling pretty well. I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve played four games [since] and I feel ready to go,” Khudobin said, adding that he is ready to practice “100 percent.”

One interesting note that Khudobin brought up is that his callups over the years have often come before games against the Penguins. A good friend of Penguins star and former World Juniors Evgeni Malkin, Khudobin caught up with Malkin over dinner Monday night. While he has often been called up for games against the Penguins, Khudobin says he still hasn’t played against the Russian forward yet.

“This is the funny part. I never played against him,” Khudobin said of Malkin, who is second in the NHL with 48 goals this season. “I don’t know, hopefully — maybe some time I will get a chance to play against him.”

That chance will not come Tuesday unless Turco, who is getting the start, falters. Khudobin will serve as the backup, while Tim Thomas will not dress.

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Evgeni Malkin, Marty Turco, Tim Thomas

Torey Krug to make NHL debut, Marty Turco to start vs. Penguins

04.03.12 at 12:09 pm ET
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With their seed in the playoffs clinched, the Bruins will begin trying out some different lineups designed to rest some players while getting others experience. That will start Tuesday night against the Penguins, with No. 1 goaltender Tim Thomas not dressing for the first time this season.

Marty Turco will get the start, with recently recalled Anton Khudobin serving as the backup. Defenseman Torey Krug will make his NHL debut, while defenseman Adam McQuaid will remain out with a swollen eye. McQuaid participated in Tuesday’s morning skate sporting a visor.

Offensively, center Gregory Campbell will make his return to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game. Jordan Caron is sick, dealing with a flu/bug situation and will not play after being advised to stay away from the team.

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Marty Turco, Torey Krug,

The Bruins entering the postseason: a look at how records over the last five years compare

04.03.12 at 11:53 am ET
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Back in November and December, it seemed as if the Bruins were poised to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Boston went 21-3-1 over those two months, outscored opponents by a 101-43 margin and did not lose a game in regulation throughout all of November.

The second half of the season, however, has not gone quite as well. The Bruins went two months without putting together back-to-back wins, lost a few key players (Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask) to injury and admitted to reaching a doldrums in effort-level that put their playoff positioning into question.

With just three games remaining in the season, however, the Bruins have secured a spot in the playoffs and clinched the Northeast Division, thereby ensuring themselves of the No. 2 seed entering the postseason. Although their postseason position is set, questions remain about how the sluggish second half might affect the team in the playoffs.

A glance at the team’s performance since February 1 over the last four seasons revealed that although this season’s Bruins have come back to earth since their early-winter success, they still are not far off from the team’s typical pace at this time of year. Here’s a quick look at how the Bruins have fared in February and March during their string of five consecutive postseason appearances.

2007-08
Final record: 41-29-12 94 points
Record since February 1: 14-10-7
Final 10 games of regular season: 4-2-4
Playoff result: Lost in first round to Montreal (4-3)

2008-09
Final record: 53-19-10, 116 points
Record since February 1: 17-11-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 8-2-0
Playoff result: Swept first round series against Montreal, lost in second round to Carolina (4-3)

2009-10
Final record: 39-30-13, 91 points
Record since February 1: 16-10-3
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-4-0
Playoff result: Beat Buffalo in six-game first round series, lost in second round to Philadelphia (4-3)

2010-11
Final record: 46-25-11, 103 points
Record since February 1: 18-10-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-3-1
Playoff result: Won Stanley Cup

2011-12
Current record: 47-28-4, 98 points (could finish with as many as 104 points)
Record since February 1: 15-14-2
Last 10 games: 5-1-1 (three games remaining)
Playoff result: ?

Based on these results, the Bruins are still in good shape entering the playoffs. They are putting together wins now, and when they have had a winning record in their last 10 games, they have advanced to the second round. The Bruins also average about 16 wins in the last two months of the regular season over the last four years, and they are on pace to hit that mark this season.

They are in the middle of where they have been the past few years in point totals, and have won the second-most games of any Bruins team in the last five years with three games left to play.

The one difference between last year’s Stanley Cup championship team was its win differential since the beginning of February, which at a plus-4, was higher than it will be this season and better (albeit very slightly) than any other Bruins team in this five-year string of consecutive playoff appearances.

Of course, there are many other factors that translate into playoff success. Injuries will be an issue for the Bruins this season, as neither Horton (concussion) or Rask (groin) have been able to return to the lineup yet. Teams go on hot streaks while others suddenly go cold (think Bruins collapse in the second round of the 2010 playoffs). Sometimes, playoff favorites suffer stunning upsets and other times, Cinderella stories change a team’s fortune in the blink of an eye.

But in terms of records and win-loss trends at least, the Bruins are right on track to at least put up a fight in their campaign as defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask,
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