Bruins

Haggerty: Three reasons why Bruins won't collapse

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Haggerty: Three reasons why Bruins won't collapse

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON I was asked by Comcast SportsNet Central to come up with three reasons why both the Bruins and Flyers are different than they were a year ago, when Philly rallied from the same 3-0 series deficit it faces now. Here's why the Bs won't repeat last seasons historic collapse:

1)More scoring: Its not the monumental struggle to score goals for the Bruins this time around as it was last year, when Daniel Paille and Miroslav Satan were top-six forwards by the end of the Philly series and Trent Whitfield was taking regular shifts as a bottom-line center over a young forward named Brad Marchand. The Bruins scored nearly one extra goal per game this season than they did last year, when they had the NHLs worst offense. Last year's Bruins had one 20-goal scorer; this year's version has a 30-goal scorer and three other 20-goal scorers. Its still mind-boggling that Marco Sturm led the anemic Bs in goals scored with a mere 22 last season before blowing his knee out in the playoffs.2)Health: Sturm and David Krejci were both out with injuries by this point in the series last year, Dennis Seidenberg (last year's big trade acquisition) never played in the postseason at all after hurting his wrist near the end of the regular season, and Marc Savard was a shadow of himself trying to cut through the fog and fill in against Philadelphia. In addition, Tim Thomas sat on the bench for the entire postseason, mainly due to a balky hip that required surgery. Krejci, Seidenberg and Thomas have been difference-makers this time around. Bostons only injury this series has been bottom-pairing defenseman Adam McQuaid, and thats something they can overcome. 3)Experience: Captain Zdeno Chara and assistant captains Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi were among the nine Bruins on this years squad who lived through the historic collapse. That experience -- feeling the bitterness of the loss, being the butt of jokes over the summer, hearing about it constantly during this season -- has strengthened their resolve this time around. Theres a time-honored belief in sports that teams have to lose, and sometimes lose epically, before they learn how to win, and the Bruins have shown over the last few weeks that theyve most definitely learned how to win.Conversely, here are three reasons why the Flyers are different and wont be able to shock the world this time around:1)Goaltending: The Flyers did switch from Brian Boucher to Michael Leighton last season during their series against the Bruins when an injury sidelined Boucher, but this year they've been going with a goalie-by-committee plan that simply isnt working. The Flyers have been forced to switch goalies in all three of the games against the Bs thus far -- and actually started three different goalies in their seven-game series against Buffalo in the opening round -- and still haven't come up with anyone who looks like he might be the backbone of a comeback. Boucher, 35, has been hanging on for a long time as a fringe guy with moments of brilliance, but he looked cooked while giving up that five-hole goal to Nathan Horton before getting lifted from Game 3. A good lesson for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren: This goaltending-on-the-cheap philosophy is a really crappy idea.2)No Chris Pronger: The mean, minutes-munching workhorse of a defensemen with a Stanley Cup ring and Norris Trophy-level skills played just under 20 minutes in Game 1, and hasnt been heard from since. Maybe its a back injury. Maybe its a hamstring problem. Maybe its a sinus infection, or maybe he aggravated the hand injury he was coming back from. Whatever the case, Pronger is hurting badly and doesnt figure to play again in the series. Thats a huge loss for the Flyers, and every bit as big as if Chara went down for the Bruins. His absence cant be underplayed, and theres been a real lack of intimidation coming from the Flyers with no Pronger around.3)The Odds: The sheer mathematics involved with a team coming back two straight seasons against the same opponent when down 3-0 in a seven-game playoff series is astronomical. Prior to last season, the last time an NHL team blew a 3-0 series lead was 35 years ago (Penguins to the Islanders); it's a once-in-a-generation (if that) sporting phenomenon that doesnt come around all that often. It would have to be the most soft, spineless, weak-minded, spiritually bankrupt team of all time to blow 3-0 playoff series leads in consecutive seasons -- to the same opponent, no less -- and the Bruins are none of those things.

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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