Bruins

Lucic ready for a fight in Buffalo

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Lucic ready for a fight in Buffalo

BUFFALO Milan Lucic knows there may be a fight in his future tonight, and hes not going to back down from it. For the second straight day the Bs power forward met the media head-on at the First Niagara Center and said he understands if Buffalo feels the need to come after him with one of their players.

Whether its Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad or Cody McCormick to take on Lucic, he knows theres likely a fight coming his way given the hockey code. Buffalo embarrassed themselves by not standing up to fight when their franchise goaltender was dumped to the ice by a rushing Lucic, and now the teams reputation is on the line if theres another muted response during the rematch in their own backyard.

Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff and several Sabres players surprisingly lauded Lucic as a clean and honest player, but the Sabres coach also said he didnt respect the takeout check on his goalie.

I respect him as a player. But not for that incident . . . I cant, said Ruff. As a player. I was around him at the Team Canada camp. He plays the game hard. But I cant respect that play.

In other words, Ruff wont be shedding any tears if Lucic is forced to defend his actions with his fists.

If it comes to that, Lucic can handle himself, but he's also been a significant piece to the Bruins offensive puzzle, totalling five goals and eight points during the teams nine-game winning streak.

One day after admitting he expected one of the Sabres players to come after him, Lucic sounded no less sure with only a handful of hours leading up to game time. NHL Sheriff Brendan Shanahan will be watching from his NHL offices and has spoken with the general managers for both teams, but there has been no message thats filtered down to the coaches or the players from high above.

I expect it to be a hard-fought game. We can make whatever we want out of whatever happened and make whatever we want out of tonight in anticipation of it, said Lucic. But I think both teams have a lot more at stake with what the game has on the line with the winner being the top of the Northeast Division. Thats our focus and my focus more than anything.

You have to be prepared going into every game no matter what the situation. I play a physical and its not going to change the way I play the game.

Lucic said in the aftermath that the lacking response would never happen with the Bruins. That's the kind of team the Bruins have been ever since they failed to respond to Matt Cookes elbow to Marc Savards head in 2010. So Lucic and the rest of the Bruins understand the psychology in the Sabres dressing room.

They probably also remember that they were so emotionally drained in the Revenge Game against Cooke that they had nothing in the tank once Shawn Thornton had taken care of the fighting business. Theres every chance that same scenario plays out in Buffalo tonight.

Its fun to be a part of rivalries like this. I would have handled things differently if it were my goaltender. I wasnt indirectly calling anybody a coward, said Lucic. We can relate to a couple of years ago when Cooke hit Savard. Cooke stepped up and fought Thornton so it was over and done with after that.

Its not fun when the media and people are pointing their fingers around about what happened, and they start pointing fingers at guys in the room. Theyre definitely going to be prepared for this game. Not only because of the incident, but because they lost to us 6-2. We know theyre going to be fired up and ready to go tonight.

If the Sabres decide to play it on the rough side, theres little doubt Lucic and the Bruins will be equally fired up.

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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