Bruins

Sweeney: Watching Subban get claimed on waivers "is a loss for us"

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Sweeney: Watching Subban get claimed on waivers "is a loss for us"

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins took a gamble that Malcolm Subban wouldn’t get claimed on waivers while trying to pass him through this week, and the Vegas house wins as it almost always does when gambling is involved. The Vegas Golden Knights claimed the Bruins former first round pick off the waiver wire on Monday at noontime, and will take on the 23-year-old goaltender that just appears to be coming into his own as a late bloomer of sorts.

Subban was 2-0-0 with a .889 save percentage during the preseason, and impressed the Bruins with his improved maturity and poise between the pipes after some well-chronicled struggles over the last few seasons. Some of it was due to a scary throat injury suffered a couple of years ago on an errant shot during warm-ups, and some of it was Subban’s train-wreck appearances for the NHL club where he was unceremoniously yanked from both of his starts.  

It was clear the Bruins would go with a Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin tandem to start the season with little appetite for an unproven Subban as the main backup goalie, and that left Bruins GM Don Sweeney with some tough choices. He could carry three goalies on the NHL roster while shorting himself at either forward or defensemen, or he could try to slip Subban through waivers with most NHL teams set at goaltender this late in the preseason.

Vegas plucked Subban despite already holding Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard on their NHL roster, so it’s unclear how he’s going to fit in with the Golden Knights in the immediate future. The Bruins were disappointed they lost a former first round pick for nothing on the waiver wire, but Subban held no trade value coming off his previously awful NHL appearances.

"I had my fingers crossed that it wasn't gonna happen,” said Sweeney, who also could have lost Subban for nothing when he left the goalie unprotected in the summer expansion draft as well "But that's part of the business, and we wish Malcolm obviously success in the opportunity that he's going to get. But it's a loss for us.

“Am I surprised? I think Malcolm has taken a step, and I’m not surprised in the situation. Vegas is doing what they’re trying to build. Obviously Zane [McIntyre] had experience last year and had a very good run. Daniel [Vladar] probably, if Malcolm does stay there, will get an opportunity to back up in

Providence and get the exposure there at the next level. It’s disappointing. We’ve had a lot of time invested in Malcolm, and we were seeing him grow as a person on and off the ice.”

Unfortunately for Subban, that growth came a little too late in his stint with the Bruins for him to contribute to the team that drafted him five years ago. It remains to be seen if Subban is ever going to become a late-blooming NHL-caliber goalie, or if he will go down as one of a number of awful, wasted first round picks during Peter Chiarelli’s tenure running the Bruins. 

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
 

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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