Bruins

Bruins done shopping prior to NHL lockout

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Bruins done shopping prior to NHL lockout

With the Bruins shelling out 70.5 million on contract extensions for Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic prior to this weekends midnight lockout deadline, general manager Peter Chiarelli is officially done with his shopping list. Chiarelli told reporters on Saturday afternoons conference call that the Bruins are done with signing any of their own players for now, and that means 2013 free agents Andrew Ference, Tuukka Rask and Nathan Horton will have to wait until some point after the lockout is lifted.

I can say that were doing signing players with a certainty, said Chiarelli. Were talking about future years with the new deals. Were talking about core players. You have to remember that we didnt bring anyone in here, we didnt bring anyone in here in the summer.

Weve got a sizable chunk of inactive money. So these numbers are big, were trying to keep our players -- specifically our forwards -- in clusters so that theres an element of equity to it. There is a lot of planning, but there is an element of cautionwere talking about future years here and core players.

Chiarelli indicated the key strategy for the Bruins headed into the lockout was locking up the core of a team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago, and he did just that with the three signings. In each case the team didnt scrimp on giving their prospective free agent player market value, but theres also the potential that a salary rollback in the new CBA would give teams some substantial savings on these new contracts.

Its a two-way street. The player has to want to stay. So weve got a good group of players that want to stay; then, in turn, that we want to re-sign. Its about the players that you know: you know their idiosyncrasies, you know their assets, they know you, theres a level of comfort and theres a level of trust.

These are good people and real good players that have performed for us over time, and that have come up through our system at various points. So theres no real secret to the success. But I can stress that it takes the player and it takes the team to both be in concert here. We try to the extent that we can to be equitable and fair and transparent and still win. So that might be the biggest denominator that we try -and we have been winning - so we will continue to use this approach. A guy like Milan is a perfect example.

So now comes the difficult part for the Bruins: waiting for a new CBA to be approved to let Chiarelli know exactly what roster he can retain, what roster he must shed and exactly what the Bs will look like in a potentially reduced fiscal world.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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