Bruins

Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

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Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

TORONTO There should be plenty of motivation up and down the Maple Leafs roster for tonights TorontoBoston clash at the Air Canada Centre, but one player in particular will be skating like its the game of his life.

Joe Colborne was part of Bostons galaxy of young Bruins stars after he was selected with a first round pick in the 2008 draft, and there was a lot to like with the oversized center. A 6-foot-5 pivot with size, leadership qualities and smarts that also had plenty of playmaking skill and offensive upside, Colborne was a scouts dream in terms of potential.

Clearly Boston wasnt the only team that noticed him, however.

He was midway through his first full pro season in Providence when he found himself packing his bags for Toronto as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade in late February. Fast forward to tonight when the 21-year-old Colborne will suit up for the first time against his former organization since the trade that on some level helped net the Bruins a Stanley Cup.

Colborne never played in a single NHL game for the Black and Gold, but that didnt stop him from running a gamut of emotions while watching the Bs win the Stanley Cup last spring.

The Bruins are obviously stacked at the center position when it comes to organizational depth, and Colborne knew it was going to be difficult to crack Bostons NHL lineup in the short term. But he wasnt about to hide the crestfallen emotions he felt when the trade came down, either.

I was pretty disappointed when the trade happened. Im not gonna lie. I loved Boston and loved everything about Boston. You could see they were on a path for a lot of success, so it was tough, admitted Colborne. But since Ive been in Toronto theyve welcome me in and its been unbelievable. Im pretty happy with where I am right now.

His current state of puck happiness didnt keep his mind from wandering back to his time with the Black and Gold while watching them battle it out with the Canucks during the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was hard watching personally because you know you might have had a chance to be up there with the Bruins and be a part of it, said Colborne. At the same time I was happy for them. I went through the whole Philadelphia series the season before. I realize how much hard work went into that right from management on down because they had a big gut check there. The way they bounced back was really neat."

I have Boston to thank for a lot of my development over the last few years. That said Im really hoping we dominate them like theyve done to us over the last few games. Obviously you want to show your best, and make them regret the decision they made to trade Colborne.

Colborne has four points (a goal and three assists) in five games with the Leafs while centering the third line for Toronto with Joey Crabb and Matt Frattin. He seems to be delivering on the promise everybody saw in Boston. It started at the AHL level where Jumbo Joe tore it up for the Toronto Marlies for two months with 10 goals in 13 games before finally getting promoted the big club. Now he finds himself smack dab in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff pack, and facing a Bs club the Maple Leafs are looking to knock down the standings.

Jordan Caron has known Colborne since the two were 14-year-old midget players in Saskatchewan on a fast track to potential NCAA careers, and is proud of the way hes fought his way to a spot in Toronto. Theyve both come a long way from inexperienced 19-year-olds in the AHL for long stretches of last season.

Its great for him. Hes such a good guy and hes so talented that you knew he was going to make it one way or the other, said Caron. He had a great start in the AHL, hes been called up and hes doing well. Good for him.

Hes such a skilled player, and hes really powerful with that long reach. Hes got a good shot too. Hes going to get even stronger than he is now, and that will make him even better.

Nobody is expecting a Tyler Seguin-type hat trick explosion for Colborne when he suits up against the Bruins tonight, but its also a game the talented center has been waiting nine months for.

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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Morning Skate: Not all smooth sailing for top picks

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Morning Skate: Not all smooth sailing for top picks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the return of Adolfo to Toucher and Rich this morning.

*Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid have received plenty of acclaim over the past couple of years as talented, young stars in the league, but Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien details how things haven’t gone ideally for either of those youngsters, or their teams, this season. Clearly, it’s not at this level yet, but just think about the hype behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin when they were drafted 1-2 back in 2010, and what they have, and haven’t, been able to accomplish in the league since that time.

*Outstanding rookie Brock Boeser credits a conversation with Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green for helping spark his game this season.

*Good video piece on the near miss of Wayne Gretzky almost playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs after dominating them in the playoffs.  

*Salivating for some hockey trades? The 10 potential NHL trade deadline targets around the league as we wait for players to become available for trade later in the season.  

*Hockeybuzz is asking what the NHL, and more specifically the Hockey Hall of Fame, has against goaltenders?

*For something completely different: A great piece from Drew Bledsoe on the tragic passing of former Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn, and how his death came just as he seemed to be putting all the pieces of his life together.