|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.
|Bruins have something to prove vs. Rangers||03.31.12 at 8:13 pm ET|
Through the various highs and lows of the 2011-12 season, one thing has held true for the Bruins: They can’t beat the Rangers.
After losing their first three meetings (0-2-1) against New York — all of which have come in the second half of the season — the Bruins, who figure to hold the second seed in the East when the playoffs begin in about a week and a half, will have their final regular-season crack at the conference’s best team Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Tim Thomas will have to deal with the lighting that he despises so much. [Side note: Thomas got criticized unfairly for that postgame comment after the March 4 game, as it wasn’t the first time he’s brought up the difficulty he has with the lights there. He answered a question last season about the pre-game festivities at Canadiens games by mentioning he didn’t like the lights at MSG.] And the Bruins will have to deal with a goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist (assuming he plays) who has dominated them (and many other teams) over the years.
This season, Lundqvist deserves not only the Vezina trophy but perhaps the Hart as well. That’s why the Bruins need to beat him Sunday. The B’s may not be considered a favorite to make it to the conference finals given how well the Penguins have played of late, but it wouldn’t come as a major shock to anyone if Boston and New York met later in the playoffs with a trip to the Cup finals on the line.
The B’s are a confident bunch either way, but they could use that piece of mind of knowing that Lundqvist, who is 3-0-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average and one shutout against Boston this season, doesn’t completely own them. Considering they’ve only beaten him once over the last two seasons, they could stand to remind themselves and everyone else that King Henrik can be defeated.
Both teams are clearly trying to make sure they’re playing their best hockey by the time the postseason starts. The B’s enter Sunday’s game with points in five straight games (4-0-1), while the Rangers, who lead the Bruins by 11 points, are winners of four straight. Though New York has beaten Boston three times and doesn’t have much to worry about as far as the standings go, the Rangers still have something to gain Sunday. They can officially clinch the Eastern Conference, and a win could give them a mental edge over the B’s should they meet later on down the road.
|Bruins’ depth makes them first team this season with six 20-goal scorers||03.31.12 at 4:34 pm ET|
There are 23 players in the NHL with 30 or more goals this season. None of them play for the Bruins.
With four games remaining in the season, it doesn’t look like the B’s will finish the season with a 30-goal scorer, a rather common occurrence. In Claude Julien‘s five seasons with the B’s, the team has had just two 30-goal scorers: Phil Kessel in 2008-09 and Milan Lucic last season. This season, both Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin are three goals short, making the feat possible, but not likely.
For as much as the 30-goal mark says about an individual player, it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of an offense as a whole. As of Saturday afternoon, the Islanders ranked 27th in the NHL in goals per game, though they boast two 30-goal-scorers in Matt Moulson and John Tavares.
While the Bruins might not have any members of the 30-goal club, they’ve been able to ice the league’s second-best offense using their favorite thing in the world: depth.
The B’s became the first team in the league this season with six 20-goal scorers ‘ Seguin (27), Marchand (27), Lucic (24), David Krejci (23), Patrice Bergeron (21) and Chris Kelly (20) ‘ with Saturday’s win over the Islanders. The Bruins’ top three lines all pack an offensive punch, so much so that there have multiple points this season in which it’s been Kelly’s line that has delivered the team wins.
Benoit Pouliot (14 goals) is the next healthy guy down on the list, and chances are you won’t see six more goals out of him over the last four games of the season. However, that doesn’t mean that the B’s have only six guys capable of burying 20. Nathan Horton had 17 goals through 46 games before going down with his latest concussion. Though Rich Peverley was not on pace for 20 goals when he suffered his knee sprain (he now has 10 goals through 53 games), he scored 22 a couple years ago for Atlanta, and his speed is enough to make opposing goaltenders keep an eye on him.
Six members of the 20-goal club is no small feat. Not only have no other teams done it this season, but the Bruins haven’t had six 20-goal-scorers in the same season since 1995-96. The B’s take pride in their offensive depth, and though individual numbers won’t jump off the page in this offense compared to other ones (see: Ryder, Michael — the man is ninth in the NHL with 35 goals after scoring 18 in each of the last two seasons with Boston), but when it comes to production, the B’s will always take quantity ‘ as in more scorers, which in turn means more goals ‘ over quality.