|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|
Anton Khudobin picked up his first shutout of the season and the Bruins got goals from David Krejci and Nathan Horton as they beat the Sabres, 2-0, Sunday night at First Niagara Center.
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.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.
|Tuukka Rask defensive, but says confidence isn’t shaken||03.24.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
After jumping out ahead of the pack in the Eastern Conference early on in the season, the Bruins find themselves in their most trying times with 18 games left on their schedule. They’ve lost three of their last four in regulation, and Claude Julien has tried different tactics in recent days to wake a team that’s been bad for the first time.
Part of that included giving back-to-back starts to Anton Khudobin for the first time this season when he put the backup between the pipes Thursday in Ottawa and Saturday in Toronto. That followed a 3-1 loss to the Jets Tuesday in which Winnipeg marched back from a 1-0 deficit in the third period with three unanswered goals (one of which was an empty-netter), resulting in Julien saying following the game that the B’s needed “timely saves” and didn’t get them from Tuukka Rask.
Rask made his return to the net in the third period of Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs, but it’s been a strange week for him. He got called out by his coach for the first time this season and was then given his longest stretch of time on the bench all year.
The 26-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent following its expiration, bit his tongue when asked about Julien’s comments.
“We do need timely saves,” Rask agreed. “It’s no secret I don’t think, right?”
As for Khudobin getting back-to-back starts, Rask doesn’t feel threatened or shaken by Julien’s decision.
“I’d like to play every game, obviously, but I didn’t take it too personally,” he said. “I’ve got to play good games, I realize that. Some tough losses there, I let in two goals in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg and we lose the games, but I wasn’t awful. It shouldn’t break my confidence.”
Julien insists that he wasn’t trying to send any sort of message to Rask by sitting him for consecutive games. He was correct in pointing out that Khudobin’s been more than serviceable thus far and added that he simply wanted to reward Khudobin for breaking Boston’s two-game losing streak Thursday.
“Tuukka is Tuukka. He’s hard on himself,” Julien said. “My thinking behind that was that Khudobin’s played well for us this year, and after playing that game in Ottawa where he was really good, he deserved a second start. I anticipated that this week coming up, Tuukka would have lots of opportunities to play. It was more based on what I saw coming up and on [Khudobin's] play. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out [well] but Tuukka went in there and I thought he was solid in the jobs that he got in the third period.”
In fact, Rask wasn’t very hard on himself, but more defensive on Sunday. After saying that he agreed with Julien’s “timely saves” comment, Rask was asked how he’d assess his level of play of late. He responded by saying that he was between the pipes as the Jets came back, but that he didn’t single-handedly blow the game.
Said Rask: “I’m not blaming myself for those goals, but we were still up 1-0 and it would be nice to at least get a point out of that, but I don’t think I’ve been awful, if that’s what you’re saying.”
Rask wouldn’t be getting all of this attention were it not for Julien’s comments Tuesday. He’s been one of the league’s top goaltenders this season (Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports even wrote on Tuesday that Rask should be the favorite to win the Vezina) and his team hasn’t scored in front of him. Still, the last week has served as a bit of a speed bump in Rask’s first full season as a starter and it will be interesting to see how he comes out of it.
|Bruins’ comeback falls short vs. Maple Leafs||03.23.13 at 9:47 pm ET|
The Bruins made it interesting in the third period, but a three-goal hole proved too much to overcome as they fell to the Maple Leafs, 3-2, Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs got goals in the first and second periods from Nazem Kadri and Mikhail Grabovski, respectively. Frazer McLaren made it 3-0 early in the third when he took a loose puck in front of the net and backhanded it off his skate and through the five-hole of Khudobin. The goal chased Khudobin in favor of Tuukka Rask, as Claude Julien replaced his starting goaltender for the first time this season. Khudobin, who was starting his second consecutive game for the first time this season, allowed the three goals on 11 shots.
Dennis Seidenberg got the Bruins on the board with a wrist shot from the point following the goalie change, with Andrew Ference scoring to make it 3-2 with the goalie pulled and just over a minute to play.
The Bruins outshot the Leafs, 33-13. The loss was the Bruins’ first against the Maple Leafs since March 19, 2011, breaking up a string of eight consecutive wins against Toronto for the B’s.
With their four-game road trip concluded (1-3-0), the Bruins will return to Boston and host the Leafs Monday at TD Garde
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- With the Bruins down two of their six defensemen in Adam McQuaid (shoulder) and Johnny Boychuk (leg), Claude Julien had to rely more on his other blueliners. Andrew Ference led the B’s in time on ice through two periods (16:59) as Julien played Dougie Hamilton (8:09 through two periods) more sparingly. Hamilton did come up big by swatting a puck out that was headed into the net after a Khudobin save on a Toronto 2-on-1, but Julien clearly had his younger defensemen on a shorter leash Saturday.
- Speaking of defensemen, Bartkowski had a forgettable night in his season debut. The 24-year-old was on the ice for Toronto’s first two goals, the second of which was the result of a play that started with the youngster pinching in the offensive zone. With Bartkowski pinching, Toronto was able to get the puck out of the zone, and though Milan Lucic was back, Grabovski was able to blow past him with ease.
- Bartkowksi and Lucic weren’t the only two who deserved blame on the Grabovski goal. The Toronto forward was struggling with the puck from the right circle, and David Krejci had both time and the opportunity to take the body or steal the puck, but he allowed Grabovski to regain control of the puck and fire a shot past Khudobin to make it 2-0.
- The Bruins turned it on following an Aaron Johnson high-sticking penalty in the first period, and the closest they got to scoring was on a shift by the David Krejci line. Nathan Horton had two golden opportunities to tie the game, but couldn’t bury it. Horton had James Reimer off-guard when the right-winger controlled a loose puck in front but fired a low shot right into the Toronto goaltender’s pads.
- The Bruins were putting the pressure on heavy after Seidenberg got them on the board, but a power play in which they got zero shots on goal halted any momentum the B’s may have gained to that point.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Though they got nothing to show for it, the Gregory Campbell line was once again Boston’s third line and came out of the first period with two of Boston’s better shifts in the first 20 minutes. Daniel Paille failed to bury chances on both shifts, but give the Merlot Line — including Shawn Thornton, who dropped the gloves with Colton Orr after Toronto took a 1-0 lead — credit for showing up in an increased role.
- Seidenberg’s goal was his second in as many games, which is pretty impressive when you consider that he had no goals on the season entering Thursday.
|Putting up a good fight: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton big as Bruins overwhelm Capitals||03.16.13 at 3:40 pm ET|
Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists and Nathan Horton scored once, added two assists and had a fight for a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as the Bruins outmuscled the Capitals, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Bruins, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 19-4-3, good for 41 points in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Penguins, who beat the Rangers Saturday afternoon.
Another Saturday, another quick start by the Bruins. One week after scoring three goals in five minutes against the Flyers, the Bruins scored twice in a three-minute span late in the opening period. Lucic skated behind Michal Neuvirth and fed Horton in the low slot from behind the net. Horton fired the shot pass the Caps goalie for the game’s first score.
Three minutes, three seconds later, it was Lucic again in the role of playmaker, as he centered a pass for David Krejci, who beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead.
Khudobin had a big first period, facing just eight shots but making several key saves to protect the lead, including a pair of stops on Alex Ovechkin and a glove save on Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals cut the Boston lead in half just 84 seconds into the second on a fluke goal. Johnny Boychuk played a puck to the left of Khudobin and the puck went right to Krejci, who tried passing it across the crease but the puck went through Khudobin for a Washington goal.
Moments after a great sprawling glove save by Khudobin on Nicklas Backstrom, Andrew Ference wristed a shot past Neuvirth for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. The Bruins then established their physical presence in the game as Brad Marchand took exception with the play of Mike Ribeiro and beat him badly in a fight in the Bruins zone. That was followed less than a minute later by a bout in which Horton landed several blows to Matt Hendricks. Horton, with a goal, assist and fight completed the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Bruins iced the game on the power play, as Rich Peverley scored on a center from Lucic, just eight seconds after Jack Hillen was whistled for high sticking. Adam McQuaid handled Hendricks in another tussle at center-ice in the third period as the Bruins put away the win.
The Bruins outhit the Capitals, 35-24, on the day. The Bruins also increased their league-leading penalty kill, increasing their streak to 27 straight kills. They are 95-for-102 this season on the penalty kill.
The Bruins have little time to celebrate as they play in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, five days after allowing three goals in four minutes in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
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