|Anton Khudobin ready for Bruins to call his number||01.27.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
It’s been Tuukka Time all season for the Bruins, but Anton Khudobin‘s turn to man the pipes appears to be right around the corner.
Tuukka Rask has done an admirable job in starting the Bruins’ first four games to the tune of a 3-0-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, but with the B’s heading into a stretch of four games in six days (including back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Devils, respectively), the Bruins will call on Khudobin to provide Rask with a breather.
“I’m sure he’ll see some action at some point,” Claude Julien said Sunday, not specifying when the B’s plan to first use Khudobin. “With this amount of games, you’re going to have to utilize both goaltenders. We want him to get some action at some point as well, so it’s important for Tuukka to get some rest, but also to keep Anton sharp as well.”
Khudobin’s next start will be just his second with the Bruins, as he made 44 saves and allowed one goal last April 5 against the Senators in his Bruins debut. Since then, the 26-year-old has played in the KHL during the lockout, putting up subpar numbers (6-14-4 record, 2.96 GAA, .912 save percentage) on a subpar Moscow Oblast Atlant team.
Though he got plenty of work in the KHL, Khudobin’s had to make the most of his time during practice since the NHL season started. He knows that he figures to get into a good number of games for the Bruins this season given the compressed schedule, so he said he has no choice but to buckle down between games.
“Just go there and stop some shots,” Khudobin said of utilizing practice time. “Work on my weaknesses and try to get myself ready for the game.”
Said Julien: “He’s been no different than anybody else. He’s gone in there and worked hard. There’s no difference in my mind as far as his practice compared to anybody else. He’s been working hard and we’ve been pleased with that.”
Unlike the last few years of the Tim Thomas/Rask tandem, this season presents a campaign of having a clearly defined No. 1 goalie with a more traditional backup. The former Wild seventh-round pick has played in seven career NHL games between the Wild and the Bruins, making five starts and going 5-1-0 with a 1.32 GAA and .961 save percentage. He is in the final year of his deal with the Bruins and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, at which point he may consider a return to the KHL.
Khudobin has insisted that despite expressing an interest in potentially changing leagues at the end of the season, his focus is solely on the Bruins. He feels that rust won’t be a problem when he makes his season debut, and his teammates are confident in what he brings.
“He’s a good goalie,” David Krejci said, adding, “He played well in the KHL this year, so he’s got some games. I don’t know when he’s going to be playing, but it’s not like he’s going to go in for the first in a long time. He’s been playing some games. He’s played well. So far what I’ve seen in practice is he competes hard. Hopefully when he gets the chance he’s going to take it.”
|Will the Bruins be able to beat the Hurricanes this season?||01.27.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — In the next seven games, the Bruins will face only two teams that made the playoffs last season, but don’t think that means guaranteed smooth sailing.
The B’s will kick off a stretch of four games in six days by facing the Hurricanes, who finished last in the Southeast Division last season but beat the Bruins in all four of their meetings.
The Hurricanes improved in the offseason by adding forwards Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, but they were problematic enough for the Bruins without them. Only one of the four contests between the two teams last season was a one-goal game (a 3-2 Hurricanes win on Oct. 12) and Carolina beat Boston by a combined score of 14-5.
“There’s certain teams that give other teams trouble, and we’re one of the teams that gives other teams trouble as well. ‘¦ They play a certain style that gives us a lot of trouble,” Claude Julien said after Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “They’re a four-man attack team. Even this year, they always have a D up in the rush. We haven’t played our best against them, but at the same time, they’ve played some good games against us.
“This is going to be one of those probably more mental challenges than anything else. We’ve got to get over that hump and get that win as quick as we can so we can get that monkey off our back, if you [will]. Certainly it’s something that we’re well aware of, and we’re going to go in there tomorrow hopefully well-prepared.”
In the Bruins’ streaky 2011-12 season, Boston always ran into the Hurricanes either when they were slumping or to begin a skid. The Bruins lost to Carolina twice during their 3-7-0 month of October and later dropped a pair of games to the Hurricanes on Jan. 14 and Feb. 2, during a 7-9-1 stretch.
“There’s enough players around from last year that they know what this team did to us,” Julien said. “This is a team that didn’t make the playoffs, but they still beat us four games out of four. If you don’t realize that, you have to take a look in the mirror and understand that there’s a pretty god challenge ahead of you.”
|Adam McQuaid (personal reasons) out vs. Hurricanes||01.27.13 at 12:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will not play Monday night against the Hurricanes due to personal reasons, Claude Julien said after the team’s practice Sunday at Ristuccia Arena.
McQuaid was the only member of the team missing from Sunday’s practice. He is expected back in Boston on Monday night, meaning he should be available for Tuesday’s game at TD Garden against the Devils.
With McQuaid out, Aaron Johnson will play his third game of the season. In stepping in for the injured Dennis Seidenberg against the Jets and Rangers this past week, Johnson played 16:03 and 11:52, respectively, with a minus-1 and a penalty in the team’s overtime loss to the Rangers.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Merlot Line a difference-maker in win over Islanders||01.25.13 at 11:49 pm ET|
Through four games, the Bruins have one point-per-game player and his name is Gregory Campbell.
The Bruins’ fourth-line center scored and had an assist in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden on a night that saw the members of the Merlot Line produce a pair of goals (Shawn Thornton scored the Bruins’ first-goal of the game).
The line of Campbell, Thornton and Daniel Paille had its ups and downs last season, but their performance was massive in what was on the whole a relatively sloppy night for the B’s. There was the typical show of solidarity from Thornton, who came to Paille’s defense in the first period when Matt Martin wanted to drop the gloves following a clean hit in the corner, but the line also brought offense, defense and energy.
“Tonight they were the ones that were doing the right things,” Claude Julien said. “Both goals that they scored, they had somebody in front of the net, Thorty on the first one, and Soupy on the second goal, things that our others lines weren’t doing for two periods. Once we got ourselves going we were a lot better. They set the example I guess for the rest of the team for the third period.”
Said Campbell: “We’ve been playing together for the last two years, which is a rare thing in hockey,” he said. “We get along off the ice, which is good because it transfers on the ice. We accept our role and know our role. Sometimes it is not an easy job but we are willing to help the team. It’s a role that we take pride in.”
Campbell, who had 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) all of last season, has a goal and three-assists thus far in the shortened campaign.
“I mean, it is what it is,” Campbell said of leading the B’s in points. “I’m just trying to contribute. I felt like I worked hard in the lockout in the last four months and I feel good right now. As I said, I am just trying to contribute, whether it’s goals or assists, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just helping the team win.”
|What went right and wrong as Bruins beat Islanders||01.25.13 at 9:35 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton had the first multi-point game of his career as Bruins improved to 3-0-1 with a 4-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden Friday night.
Tuukka Rask made 24 saves on 26 shots in the win, his third of the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– It was another strong game for Hamilton, who picked up his second career and third career points with assists on Thornton and Bergeron’s goals, and could have had more. Hamilton fired the shot that led to Thornton’s goal in front in the first period, while his long pass from the corner to Brad Marchand in the neutral zone started the play that resulted in Bergeron’s breakaway goal. Late in the third period, arena-wide “Dougie” chants filled the Garden.
Though Hamilton had only two shots that actually reached Rick DiPietro Friday, he once again displayed an impressive ability to get pucks through. Another one of his shots, an intentionally wide blast, nearly resulted in a goal when it bounced off the board to Patrice Bergeron, whose bid was stopped.
– Speaking of defensemen, the Bruins got Dennis Seidenberg back on Friday, and though Claude Julien limited his time somewhat (he did not get any time on the power play), he didn’t appear to be in any noticeable discomfort. Seidenberg had a team-high six hits for the Bruins.
– Though the power play remains unsuccessful, the penalty kill was sharp as usual for the Bruins. In killing off three penalties, the team’s penalty kill improved to 16-for-16 through four games.
– Johnny Boychuk showed his tolerance for pain by not missing a shift after clearly feeling a blocked shot from Kyle Okposo in the third period. Boychuk struggled through the rest of the shift and went down the tunnel afterwards, but was back out on the ice for his next turn.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Though they finally scored their first power-play goal of the season on Wednesday, the struggles on the man advantage continued for the Bruins on Friday. In turning in an 0-for-3 showing, the Bruins saw their power play sink to 1-for-17 on the season.
– Zdeno Chara took his third minor penalty in four games when he mauled John Tavares in the neutral zone in the second period. The stakes were much lower without Chara this time around, as Chara’s previous penalties came late in tie games and involved a 5-on-3 for the opponent, and the B’s penalty killers once again came up big without their top man.
– The line of Chris Kelly between Rich Peverley and Chris Bourque had another underwhelming night, as Aucoin blew right by Bourque and Johnny Boychuk in front to score the Islanders’ first goal. The goal and minus-1 showing dropped both Peverley and Bourque to a minus-3 thus far on the season. Kelly, who picked up the secondary assist on Campbell’s goal but had changed before the puck went in, was also a minus-1 and saw his rating fall to minus-3.
|Chris Bourque feels the comfort is there and the offense will come||01.25.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
Chris Bourque is only three games into his Bruins career, and though neither he nor his line has made a ton of noise on the ice, he’s found Boston — the third NHL stop of his career — to be an ideal fit.
“Every game I feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “Obviously getting the nerves out the first couple of games, playing in the Garden with a full house, there’s definitely a little bit of nerves and obviously in New York the other night, but I’m starting to settle in here and I’m starting to feel pretty good and hopefully just get better every day.”
Bourque said that it still feels “surreal” playing for the Bruins given that he grew up watching his father, Ray Bourque, carve out a Hall of Fame career with the B’s, but that’s to be expected.
“Every day that passes, you get kind of used to it a little bit more,” he said. “Seeing my dad’s picture all over the place, every time I see that it reminds that he was such a legend here, so it’s still a little bit different, but something that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s a lot of fun being around these guys, a great group of guys and a good hockey team.”
As for what he’s done on the ice, Bourque is looking for his first goal as a Bruin (he has one goal in 36 career NHL games), but he’s been trusted with minutes on the third line, power play (he was on the ice for Brad Marchand‘s power-play goal against the Rangers Wednesday) and shootout, as he was Boston’s third shooter against the Jets Monday. The confidence is there on Bourque’s part, and the faith is there on Claude Julien‘s part.
“Chris Bourque is a great player, skilled guy,” Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I think he’s been an important part of our power play as far as giving us that left shot that we need right now. He’s been pretty decent there. I think he’s another guy that’s feeling his way through our hockey club. The one thing you want out of players that are coming in for the first time is that they don’t hurt your hockey club, and [he] hasn’t.”
The line of Chris Kelly between Bourque and Rich Peverley hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest — they’ve produced no goals, while Bourque and Peverley have minus-2 ratings and Kelly is a minus-1 — but Bourque thinks the process of coming together has gone increasingly well.
“I think every game has gotten better,” he said. “Last game there were a lot of power plays and PKs. [Kelly and Peverley] kill penalties and me and Pevs are on the power play, so we didn’t play as much together as a line, but when we’re out there I feel like we’re creating some good energy. That’s part of the job as a third line is creating energy for the team and getting momentum. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”
|Dennis Seidenberg a game-time decision vs. Islanders, Tuukka Rask expected to start||01.25.13 at 11:55 am ET|
Dennis Seidenberg will participate in warmups prior to Friday night’s game against the Islanders and will be a game-time decision as he looks to return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for the last two games.
“He’ll be game-time,” Claude Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I can tell you I’m more optimistic than pessimistic though, but again, game-time for the right reasons that we want to make sure that he is ready to go.”
Seidenberg took part in the morning skate after staying off the ice (the team did not practice) on Thursday. The 31-year-old participated in line rushes with Dougie Hamilton, his partner in last Saturday’s win over the Rangers (the only game in which he’s played this season and the game in which he suffered the injury). It’s worth noting, however, that Seidenberg practiced on Tuesday and worked with Hamilton before eventually being kept out of Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden. He said Friday that he feels good and that resting on Thursday was beneficial.
“The day off always helps when you have a nagging injury, so it definitely helped,” he said.
The defensive pairings have been shuffled in each of the two games without Seidenberg, but they were as follows Friday morning (the forward lines were unchanged):
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid
Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice Friday, suggesting he will make his fourth straight start to begin the season.
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