|Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask skate prior to Bruins practice||04.04.12 at 11:14 am ET|
WILMINGTON — In an encouraging sign, Bruins forward Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated for 40 minutes with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Neither players was not on the ice as the team began their practice Wednesday.
Horton has been out since Jan. 22, when he suffered his second concussion in seven months. He tried skating in February, but had a setback and was shut back down. Wednesday marks the first time he has skated since then.
Whether Horton returns to the Bruins at any point in the postseason remains unclear. In 46 games this season, he has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points.
Rask suffered an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said recently that he hopes to return in time for the postseason.
Johnny Boychuk, who left Tuesday night’s game in the third period, did not practice, while Jordan Caron returned to the ice after staying away from the team Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
|Sidney Crosby leads Penguins past Bruins||04.03.12 at 10:08 pm ET|
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.
|Bruins-Penguins Live Blog: Marty Turco gets the start||04.03.12 at 7:42 pm ET|
|What will Anton Khudobin’s role with the Bruins be?||04.03.12 at 12:58 pm ET|
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.
|Torey Krug to make NHL debut, Marty Turco to start vs. Penguins||04.03.12 at 12:09 pm ET|
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.
|Bruins recall Anton Khudobin from Providence||04.02.12 at 6:11 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Monday that they have recalled goaltender Anton Khudobin from Providence. Khudobin will likely be the Bruins’ backup goaltender when the playoffs begin if Tuukka Rask is not ready to return from his abdomen strain/groin strain.
Khudobin has a 21-19-3 record in Providence this season with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He suffered a wrist injury in early March, but returned on March 23. He has a 2-2 record since returning.
Current backup Marty Turco, who has made three appearances for the team, is ineligible for postseason play because he was signed after the trade deadline.
|Plenty to like about Sunday’s win over Rangers||04.02.12 at 12:26 am ET|
The Bruins became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch their division, wrapping up the Northeast with their 2-1 win over the Rangers Sunday evening. The division win means they will hold the No. 2 seed when they begin the playoffs on April 12.
For the Bruins, Sunday was obviously about way more than clinching the division. In fact, you could take your pick when it comes to the positives that emerged from their victory at Madison Square Garden.
They finally did what they have often been unable to do by beating Rangers goaltender and Vezina favorite Henrik Lundqvist. They only put two pucks past Lundqvist, but the win showed that when Tim Thomas is on, two can be enough.
Thomas made 33 saves in the victory, and both the numbers and the eyeball test are suggesting that he’s getting right where he needs to be for the postseason.
No. 30 was far from himself for a pretty lengthy stretch during the regular season. In an eight-game span from Dec. 31 to Jan. 22, he allowed four or more goals four times. In early March, he allowed four goals in four of seven games. The Bruins were struggling, and they didn’t have a dominant Thomas to bail them out. That seems to be in the past now for both the B’s and Thomas.
Over his last seven starts, Thomas has allowed two goals or less in each game, a span in which he’s gone 5-1-1. Though he was coming off a shootout loss to the Capitals Thursday (his first shootout loss of the season), Thomas had to have been feeling pretty good about the way he’d been playing.
Sunday’s win means Thomas has beaten the Rangers for the first time in three tries this season (Tuukka Rask got the other start). Thomas had allowed three goals in each of his two starts against the conference leaders this season (0-2-0), but on Sunday the reigning Vezina winner held Rangers to one goal on 34 shots.