Bruins

Morning Skate 59: Eastern Confernce schedule fun

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Morning Skate 59: Eastern Confernce schedule fun

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Its become the biggest guessing game in Boston.When is the Eastern Conference Final between the Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning going to get started?The NHL mandates that the Eastern Conference Finals cant get started until the Western Conference has been decided, and its going to be a bit of a squeeze looking at the schedule for the two buildings. The Bruins are moving forward with the idea that Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will commence on either Thursday or Saturday, but wont know for certain until the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks tangle at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.Meanwhile in Tampa, Disney on Ice has the St. Pete Times Forum from May 19-22 and is going to make scheduling a playoff games for those dates in Tampa next to impossible, which means the Lightning will have to get their two games in prior to Thursday, May 19 a crunch that could mean back-to-back games in either Boston or Tampa Bay before its all said and done. Toy Story 3 taking the ice in Tampa means that Buzz Lightyear and Woody will be elbowing the NHL right out of the building, and throwing a serious Pixar twist into the playoff scheduling.Obviously the extra rest time means Adam McQuaid should be fully healed from his sprained neck by the time games get going, and any additional time is a good thing for Patrice Bergerons healing process. But the Bruins would rather get started sooner rather than later, and are moving ahead with the information they have in hand with the West still remaining to be won.We had a real good meeting about that this morning with the coaches. We explained to them that we dont know if it is Thursday, or if it is going to be Saturday. I think right now as we speak Thursday would probably be the earliest because of what happened on the weekend, said Julien. But we have to be prepared for both scenarios. I have kind of prepared for Thursday and the Saturday scenario, and we are hoping to maybe get it clarified by tomorrow night after the DetroitSan Jose game. If we get that then at least Wednesday you will be heading in the right direction, and we will make that decision hopefully Tuesday night when we find out more information.No quotes from Julien about To Infinity and Beyond! as a rallying cry for the Black and Gold in this series.On to the links: CBC has some documented cases of NHL teams ignoring the concussion protocol for their players a phenomenon that seems to be happening in the playoffs with some dinged players avoiding the Quiet Room.Dandy Don Cherry on Coachs Corner giving more love to Nathan Horton and the way hes playing at a dominant level for the Bruins while looking more like the junior hockey phenom than the player that faded a bit in Florida with the moribund Panthers.Preds forward Mike Fisher gives his thoughts on the Green Men bringing a Carrie Underwood cardboard cutout to the penalty box with them in Nashville, and his reaction is priceless.Five thoughts from Joe Yerdon on Sunday nights action including Jeremy Roenick with some serious disdain for former teammate Patrick Marleau a level that even went so far as calling him gutless multiple times in the Versus postgame show. Yerdon also explains why he thinks Roenick wasnt wrong-headed in his blunt and frank assessment of Marleau'scareer as anunderachiever in the playoffs.Buzzing the Net, Yahoo! Sports' junior hockey blog explores the curious case of Ethan Werek as a cautionary tale in hockey.The second round of the playoffs means the ice surface in balmy Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena is going further than its ever gone before, and things could get bumpy in Music City as it's warming up for the summer.Mike Brophy has his top five picks for Conn Smythe, and his last for the last two weeks doesnt include Tim Thomas or Patrice Bergeron. Im going to give Brophy a mulligan and assume he hasnt actually, you know, watched a Bruins playoff game yet in this postseason. Otherwise he aint got no alibi. On the other side of the coin, TSN's Dave Hodge writes in his mailbag that Tim Thomas is the most dependable goaltender left in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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