|After overcoming injury, Malcolm Subban must overcome signing of Anton Khudobin for NHL job||07.12.16 at 2:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Two days after Malcolm Subban suffered a frightening throat injury in warmups of a Feb. 6 game for the Providence Bruins, David Pastrnak relayed that he’d talked to Subban and that the goaltender was in good spirits.
The right wing quickly clarified that the communication had taken place over text, as Subban wasn’t doing much talking after a puck hit him in the throat during warmups. In fact, Subban went what he estimated to be over two weeks without being able to speak before finally grunting out his first words (asking his parents for permission to buy a car).
Now, after working his way back from a five-day hospital stint that included surgery on a fractured larynx and one and a half days with tubes down his throat, the Bruins’ 2013 first-round pick is in town for development camp and hopes to pick up where he left off prior to the injury, which was the highest point of his pro career.
Though Subban’s numbers on the season were underwhelming — a .911 save percentage in 27 games played, marking a step back from his .921 mark over 35 games the season before — Subban had a .939 save percentage over his previous seven games leading up to the injury and, had he kept up the pace, could have challenged NHL backup Jonas Gustavsson late in the season.
“He was progressing great,” Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said after Tuesday’s development camp, which saw Subban work with B’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa. “It was unfortunate the injury he had and having to miss half the season. He was definitely on the right track.”
Yet while the obstacle of his injury is gone, a new one has been presented in former Bruins’ backup Anton Khudobin, whom the team brought in on a two-year contract on the first day of free agency. Though Khudobin’s signing could have also been a move to give the team protection against losing Subban or Tuukka Rask in next offseason’s expansion draft, it also puts a player ahead of Subban on the depth chart.
“I’m not too focused on anything else that goes on in the organization,” Subban said of the Khudobin acquisition. “It’s all just about playing my game and trying to make sure I’m ready to go and I can go [do] whatever they want me to do. That’s where my focus is going into camp.”
If Subban doesn’t make the team as Rask’s backup, he would spend a fourth year in Providence, likely splitting time again with fellow prospect Zane McIntyre. Yet Subban feels he’s close to being NHL-ready, even if free agency made his road to the NHL a little tougher.
“I feel every year [there’s competition for the backup job],” Subban said. “Look at Tuukka. I’m sure he thinks of all of us as competitors, too. It’s healthy competition. That’s what you need it to be.”
|Report: Anton Khudobin returns to Bruins||07.01.16 at 12:06 pm ET|
According to Bob McKenzie, the Bruins signed free agent goaltender Anton Khudobin, who served as Tuukka Rask’s backup in the 2013 season, to a two-year contract.
Khudobin, who left the B’s for the Hurricanes after three seasons in the organization, spent last season between the Ducks and the San Diego Gulls of the AHL.
In his lone full season with Boston, Khudobin had a .920 save percentage in 14 games played.
By signing Khudobin, the Bruins have given themselves an option for which goalie to expose in next offseason’s expansion draft. The deal more or less protects the Bruins from losing Malcolm Subban.
|Anton Khudobin signs with Hurricanes||07.05.13 at 3:52 pm ET|
Free agent goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Hurricanes Friday, ending his two-year stint with the Bruins.
As the team’s backup goalie last season, Khudobin went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. With Khudobin gone, Niklas Svedberg will likely become Tuukka Rask‘s backup after having a 2.17 GAA and .925 save percentage for Providence last season.
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|Shawn Thornton ‘can’t believe’ Tuukka Rask not a Vezina finalist||05.08.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
TORONTO — The three finalists for the Vezina Trophy were revealed Wednesday and the Bruins were surprised to hear that Tuukka Rask was not one of them.
Rask, who finished third in the league with a .929 save percentage and was tied for first with five shutouts in 36 games this season, was beat out by favorite Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets as well as San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Rask’s 2.00 goals-against average ranked sixth in the NHL this season, while he played seven games less than both Niemi and Lundqvist.
While the Bruins say they’re focused more on the postseason than any individual awards, some admitted to being confused as to why Rask wasn’t a finalist for the award, which is voted on by the league’s general managers.
“I can’t believe he’s not nominated,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. It’s the same as three years ago, when he started with us. If I’m not mistaken, he had the best save percentage, the best goals against in the league and he wasn’t even a question mark for the Calder or the Vezina.”
Rask’s numbers during the regular season are very similar to his stats from the aforementioned 2009-10 season, when, as Thornton pointed out, his 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage were tops in the league. Thornton thought he deserved more recognition then just like he thinks he deserves it now, and though he said that Rask “definitely” flies under the radar because Boston is known for being such a strong defensive team, he still thinks Rask’s numbers tell a lot of the story of Boston’s success. He isn’t alone in that line of thinking, either.
“From the first game this year, Tuukka has been the guy to go. He’s won some games for us in the season,” David Krejci said. “He’s been great for us in the playoffs. He had 47 shots against the last game and he kept us in the game last game and the first two games as well. It’s great to have somebody back there that you can rely on. He’s been so good for us the whole year. I just hope that he’s going to keep playing the way he is.”
Rask’s backup, Anton Khudobin, said he was surprised that Rask wasn’t a finalist either, saying the 26-year-old “put up good numbers and had a lot of shutouts.” While he understands that people may associate the Bruins as being a great defensive team because of players like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, he doesn’t think that’s a reason for people to discount numbers like Rask’s.
“I don’t think any goalie has an easy job in this league,” Khudobin said. “I don’t think so. Of course we have great defensemen, there’s no doubt. Plus it’s a team sport, to win something, every piece has to be good.”
Thornton and Claude Julien both said that they don’t think Rask will lose too much sleep over being excluded, a quality they like about their netminder.
“I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “I’m just glad we have him on our team. I know that the type of person he is, he doesn’t need the recognition. He’s going to continue to play no matter what, but it’s unfortunate because both years he’s been our starter he’s been unbelievable.”
On a less surprising note, Chara was not one of the top three vote-getters from writers for the Norris Trophy. The three finalists for the award are P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.
|Claude Julien mum on postseason goaltending plans||04.22.13 at 2:49 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien operates a certain way and he rarely strays from it, but might this shortened season change the circumstances?
The Bruins have made the playoffs in each of the six seasons Julien has been in Boston, with this season being the sixth. Julien has used only one goalie in every postseason, with the backup never seeing the ice. In the first two seasons it was Tim Thomas, followed by Tuukka Rask in 2010 and then Thomas again in each of the last two postseasons.
Rask has started 31 games this season, with Anton Khudobin getting 13 starts, which has made for a 70-30 split in Rask’s favor. Yet with the postseason scheduling figuring to be just as condensed as the regular season schedule, the B’s could find themselves in a position where they don’t want to overwork Rask.
Asked about this season altering his strategy come playoff time, Julien was mum.
“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “I think a lot of it has to do with if the goalie’s playing extremely well, you ride your goaltender,” he said. “If you need to make a change for whatever reason, you make a change, but it’s hard for me to answer that right now.”
Over the past two postseasons, the Bruins have had two sets of back-to-backs in a total of five series. Both came in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals (against the Canadiens in 2011 and against the Capitals last year), with Thomas starting both games each time.
This past weekend, Rask started games on back-to-back games for the first time this season. The last time he had started games on consecutive days was on Feb. 17 and 18 of the 2011 season. The B’s did not have back-to-back games in the 2010 postseason in which Rask went the whole way against the Sabres and Flyers.
|Anton Khudobin shuts out Sabres||03.31.13 at 10:08 pm ET|
The win was Boston’s first in their last three games and gave them 48 points, which puts them one point behind the Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead. Both teams have played 34 games.
The game was scoreless through the first two periods before Krejci got the Bruins on the board by burying a rebound from a Horton bid in front. Matt Bartkowski sent the pass to Horton in the zone to set up the goal, giving him his first NHL assist in 12 career games. Horton made it 2-0 shortly after by beating Ryan Miller in front off a feed from Krejci. Horton now has goals in three straight games and has 11 on the season.
Khudobin made 26 saves in the victory.
The Bruins will return to Boston and host the Senators Tuesday at TD Garden.
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|Claude Julien: Make no mistake, Tuukka Rask still is team’s No. 1 goalie||03.26.13 at 11:21 am ET|
There’s no goalie controversy with the Bruins – at least certainly not in the eyes of coach Claude Julien.
Tuukka Rask wore the honorary “Red Rooster” T-shirt after turning away 23-of-25 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden. After allowing two goals on the first nine shots he faced, both of which he had little chance of stopping, Rask was spectacular down the stretch, making several key saves in the final two minutes of regulation and two late in overtime to allow the Bruins to escape with two points.
Eyebrows were raised last week when Rask’s backup Anton Khudobin started back-to-back games against Ottawa and Toronto after the Rask lost games to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg to start the road trip.
Despite Rask’s 15-4-3 record, a sparkling .928 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against (second-best in the NHL), there were some murmurs that the Bruins might be closer to a platoon situation in net than anyone expected. Julien put that to rest Monday night.
“Well I don’t think Tuukka’s been bad at all,” Julien said. “I think you know, I hope people didn’t read into Khudobin playing two games, because I think Khudobin deserved to play two games. He’s played well all season long, he played well in Ottawa, and this was an opportunity to get him two games in a row and that’s all it was.
“You know, we’ve got a busy week this week and I needed Tuukka fresh and that’s all it was. So certainly had nothing to do with that. And Tuukka to me has been good and he’s never been bad, he’s been great and he’s been good. But you know, we’ve gotten some pretty good games out of him and I don’t think we can necessarily point the finger at him for losing any games for us this year.”
As a matter of fact, Rask didn’t even get that second game off as Khudobin was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots Saturday night in Toronto and Rask was sent in to try and salvage matters.
Rask and Khudobin have teamed to make a very effective combination this season, as the pair has combined for a 2.10 goals against, the second-best in the NHL this season. Khudobin gave Rask some advice on the final shootout save on Nikolai Kumelin, who beat him on a breakaway in the second period, the save that won the game.
“He made the same kind of move in that breakaway, and then Anton told me that’s the only move he’s got, so I kind of threw my blocker there and then just tried to stay with him and made my block,” Rask said.
Then came the kicker from the coach.
Asked whether Rask seemed to take the message of rest and being at full strength the right way, Julien said that’s up to each individual, pointing out that sometimes players – like Tim Thomas – can be quirky and hard to read.
“I don’t know, I think it’s one of those things that everybody reads it whichever way they can. And you know that from the goaltender last year,” Julien said.