Bruins

Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

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Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference had a pretty simple message for any Red Sox player he might bump into at Whole Foods or see at a charity event.

It wont be maudlin sympathy or a contrived new-age message of redemption after the Sox suffered the worst regular-season collapse in baseball history. It will be the hockey solution to starting the healing process.

Id ask them if they want to go get a beer," said Ference, who was a part one of the worst collapses in NHL playoff history when the Bruins lost to the Flyers after leading the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, three games to none. That's about it. I dont think there was a single guy around here after Flyers loss that was looking for a shoulder to cry on or looking for sympathy. We were mad with each other.

It almost seemed surreal to those Bruins players watching it unfold Wednesday night in real time, just as it did to a nation of Red Sox fans that are still slack-jawed and a little stunned Thursday. The Evan Longoria home run added another chapter of Red Sox misery that had been remarkably absent since the 2004 World Series title.

I watch about three hours of baseball and that was it for me last night," Ference said. "It was nuts. It was almost like it was scripted for it to be as hurtful as possible. It sucks. Its not fun. Its a bad feeling to go through as a player. Youre not trying to tank. Its almost like you try too hard to turn things around and it just gets worse.

You only go through the media gauntlet if youre reading the papers and listening to what people say outside the room. I dont think as bad it was that guys cared too much what was said on the outside. We were harsh enough on the inside of the room with ourselves. From our GM to the coach and the players, we were extremely hard on each other. I dont know if the situation is the same with the Red Sox or not, but I know we were all glad the next year that we didnt blow it all up because we believed in each other.

Tim Thomas is a pretty big baseball fan and watched a few innings, but ultimately lost the remote-control battle with his kids on Wednesday night.

The Bs goaltender saw that the Red Sox were leading and the Yankees were losing big before moving on to other things in the Thomas household. He wasnt filled in until Thursday morning at the Garden about the gory details of the Red Sox demise: Jonathan Papelbons blown save and Carl Crawfords limp attempt to snag a fly ball in left field closing the pathetic final chapter for this seasons star-crossed Sox squad.

Thomas wasnt the goaltender of record when the Bruins fell to the Flyers in four straight playoff games, but he has little doubt the Sox 7-20 record in September can help them in the long run if its addressed and harnessed properly.

I dont think they need any advice," Thomas said. "I think it will simmer in those guys all winter and it will help them with motivation for next year. Thats what I think happened with us. With the way it worked out in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, being able to come back like that, I hate to say it but it seems like it was meant to be.

Thats why sports are sports. You dont know what the outcome is going to be in situations like that.

The funny thing about the Bs collapse two years ago is that it really raised the stakes and the fan attention for the Boston hockey franchise. It seems that the more dramatic and compelling the failure, the more emotionally tied the fan base becomes in the ensuing season. For the Bruins, the pain and heartache of becoming the butt of jokes in their entire league steeled them against all coming adversity that entire year.

Coach Claude Julien believes the proud franchise of the Red Sox will bounce back.

Sports is what it is," Julien said. "One day its great and the next day its something like that. We can all stand here and speculate and have our reasons or answers. But only they know what the cause of it is. I know they had injuries and that can sometimes break team chemistry. There are a lot of reasons why those kinds of things can happen. But as outsiders, the natural thing to do is always attack the team.

Its tough. Weve been through it. Its tough to swallow and Im sure those guys arent going to be happy and proud today. But theyre going to bounce back. Theyre a very proud organization and Im sure theyre going to bounce back.

The best way to get the proud Sox franchise headed in the right direction: Save the excuses and lame attempts to explain away something that uncovered serious flaws within the team structure.

Its a matter of getting over it," said Ference. You suck it up and take responsibility for it. I think you only get into trouble if you start pointing fingers and looking for excuses. But if you take accountability and responsibly for not getting the job done, then you can move on from it.

The suck it up season started for the Sox Thursday morning.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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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