Celtics

BC introduces its new coach

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BC introduces its new coach

Associated Press

BOSTON -- After thrusting Cornell into the national spotlight with three straight Ivy League titles and a trip to the Sweet 16, Steve Donahue has an even tougher task at Boston College.

He needs to make the Eagles relevant in their hometown.

The former Cornell coach was introduced at BC on Wednesday - first to the media, and then at a campus pep rally to students who've yawned through seven NCAA tournament berths in nine years and a switch to the Atlantic Coast Conference that was intended to bring big-time college basketball to Boston.

"We'll do everything we can to make everybody feel good about Boston College basketball," Donahue said. "I believe that's my job."

Donahue led the Big Red to a 29-5 record this season - the most wins in Ivy history - and the school's first ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 in 59 years. Cornell beat favored Temple and Wisconsin in the NCAAs - its first NCAA wins ever - and was the first Ivy team to reach the Sweet 16 in more than three decades. Cornell lost to No. 1 seed Kentucky 62-45 in the East Regional semifinals.

"While we are all saddened to lose Steve as our head coach, we wish him and his family terrific success at Boston College," Cornell athletic director Andy Noel said. "Under his leadership, Cornell basketball has reached unprecedented heights."

Donahue replaces Al Skinner, who in 13 years in Chestnut Hill was the winningest coach in BC history. But he was fired after two losing seasons in three years, while attendance at Conte Forum declined in each of the past four seasons.

Donahue thinks he can change that.

"It's the most passionate sports region in the country. We play in the best conference in the country," Donahue said. "We want everyone on board. ... I find it hard to believe if we play (an exciting) brand of basketball, and do it in the ACC, that we won't fill the building."

For the second straight season, an ACC team won the national championship, with Duke's win on Monday night following North Carolina's title in 2009.

Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

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Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

The entire concept of Tuukka Rask getting pushed by one of his backups is based on the backup consistently performing at a high standard, and that wasn’t the case for Anton Khudobin over the weekend.

Just as it isn’t solely the fault of Rask when the Bruins lose, it wasn’t solely the fault of Khudobin that Boston squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Saturday night. But Khudobin couldn’t step up and carry the B's when they clearly started losing their edge in the second half of the game, and that inconsistency will certainly make the Bruins pine for a sooner-rather-than-later return of a concussed Rask.

“Erratic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy when asked to describe Khudobin postgame. “He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. He certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him. But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.”

It was certainly too much to expect Khudobin to be perfect, but they just needed him to be good enough to pull them through while they were getting waylaid in the second half of the game. That proved to be a major challenge, given the players the Bruins are missing and the extremely rough night suffered by Torey Krug (minus-3 on Saturday night, and minus-8 for the season). Khudobin finished with 37 stops as a defense corps without Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller wilted in the third period and the overtime, but he couldn’t make the clean saves for whistles when the team really needed them. Case in point was a Rasmus Ristolainen tester in overtime while the Bruins were in the midst of being outshot by a 6-0 margin in the extra session. Khudobin got a glove on it but couldn’t cleanly catch it for a badly needed stoppage in play at a time when Krug, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had been caught on the ice for over two minutes.

"The start was great, and the game was great until we scored the fourth goal, and I think after that, we thought it was an easy game,” said Khudobin. “[The high volume of shots] wasn’t that much difficult, I like shots, like probably every other goalie, but they were crashing the net. They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net, which were . . .that’s the dangerous part, not just the shots.”

Khudobin, 31, has taken five of a possible six points in the games he's played this season and is off to a solid start with a 2-0-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He looks like he’s going to be a perfectly fine backup, enabling the Bruins to hold Rask to the 55-60 games they’ve forecasted for his peak performance this season.

But Saturday night was a major blow to any hopes that Rask would be pushed competitively by his backup, and that a Khudobin hot streak could spark a slow-starting, and now injured, Rask when he does return.

Instead the Bruins are left to hope they can survive while missing Rask along with a number of other key players, and that the goalie returns sooner than later to a team that can’t survive too many morale-crushing defeats like the choke job against the lowly Sabres.

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