Bruins

Bruins step up for Rask, help earn him season's first win

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Bruins step up for Rask, help earn him season's first win

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask had a 2.71 goals-against average entering Monday night's game against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden. But he had no wins to show for it.

Three starts, three losses. That's how Rask's season had gone.

But everybody in the Bruins dressing room agreed: it wasn't his fault.

Monday night was about extending their win streak to three games. But with Rask getting the nod -- even after Tim Thomas posted a shutout on Saturday night in Toronto -- the Bruins' game against the Islanders meant more than a win streak.

It was about getting Rask something he deserved a long time ago.

"We wanted to get this win for him," said Bruins forward Gregory Campbell after Monday night's game. "He works hard every day. It's not an easy job and he's positive. He's a great goaltender and not too often you have two great goaltenders on one team battling for the same job, so we have a lot of confidence in both of them. Tuukka's played well every time he's been in the net. We just haven't had the goals to support him so it was nice to get those goals and give him his first win."

The B's defeated the Islanders 6-2 on Monday, marking the first time they've scored more than three goals for Rask since last February. In his three previous starts this season, the Bruins were shut out, scored one goal, and then scored two. All three resulted in losses.

Rask admitted some frustration, Monday, with his team's inability to bring their A-game when he's been between the pipes. It's a problem that continued from last season. But things were different against the Islanders.

"I wasn't too frustrated, but obviously, when you feel like you're playing OK, and then you just lose, it's kind of tough on your confidence a little bit," said Rask after Monday's win. "But we battled through it, and it's good to get that win.

"It's more fun to win than lose. I was a little frustrated, obviously. But not too crazy. I knew it would come, because we were playing bad as a team at the beginning of the season too, so it was just bad luck there. It feels good obviously."

Rask made 26 saves and didn't allow a goal after the pair he let up in the first period. He had no chance on the first, as Matt Moulson beautifully re-directed a shot from the point. And on the second, Rask was a victim of a Michael Grabner snipe to the top-right corner.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the game that it would have been "easy" to go back to Thomas on Monday night, after his shutout against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. But Rask's previous success against the Islanders combined with the fact that Julien is dead set on playing both goaltenders this season, made for Rask's fourth start of the season.

And this time, the players in front of him showed up.

"I think it was just a matter of time," said Julien after the win. "I don't think we ever questioned his play. And even in those games he lost, it was pretty obvious that his game was fine. It was us in front of him that weren't doing a very good job.

"So tonight, the players played much better in front of him, and gave him some cushion as well. And he was able to play his game comfortably."

"We really put a lot of talk before the game into it," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "Its something he deserved and we just didnt do a very good job early on when he was playing. So for sure, tonight to get a win for him and Im sure hes also happy with his performance.

"You could see the guys really sacrifice themselves, blocking shots. We saw Danny Paille was just paying the price. Gregory Campbells always trying to block shots, Dennis Seidenberg. We have guys willing to do their job to prevent any pucks going to the net and Tuukka made really big saves when we needed it."

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

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“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

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