Bruins

NHL Notes: Khudobin can't mask excitement over return to Bruins

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NHL Notes: Khudobin can't mask excitement over return to Bruins

One of the hidden bonuses of welcoming backup goaltender Anton Khudobin back into the Bruins fold this season is the unmitigated joy the affable netminder takes to his day-to-day life in the NHL.

It’s tough to tell just how joyful last season was for the 30-year-old goalie when he spent most of his year riding AHL buses with the San Diego Gulls, but Khudobin has been all smiles, jokes and warm sentiment since arriving back in Boston last month after spending three seasons away following a stint with the B’s organization in the middle of the Stanley Cup Era.

“When I got [to Boston] I couldn’t believe [it was] three years gone,” said Khudobin with a big smile. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

So, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise when Khudobin put on a show-and-tell production for assorted Bruins media members last week while showcasing his new goalie mask, custom constructed by Pro’s Choice and painted by Sylabrush out of Montreal.

The mask features the growling bear common to the Bruins goalie masks, and has a giant “DOBBY” emblazoned in big letters at the bottom front of the mask. It also has a feature that only one other goaltender in the NHL (Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy) can boast this season: a sub-zero paint job that changes colors in temperature when Khudobin hops from the warm dressing room to the cold, frozen sheet. Khudobin demonstrated the mask in the Bruins dressing room at Warrior Ice Arena this past week, and showed the formerly white portions of the mask, at the chin and the top of the head, turned jet black once he poured cold water over the mask.

Khudobin actually didn’t even know about the state-of-the-art feature until Sylabrush co-founder Sylvie Marsolais filled him in just prior to his demonstration last week, but he loved it. Then it turned into goalie science experiment time with Mr. Khudobin.

“We've been working with Anton for the past four years and he gave us what he wanted, which was Dobby on the chin, matte and glossy finish combined with his Russian phoenix on the back plate. For the rest, we had freedom to do what we wanted,” said Marsolais. “We looked at all the Bruins logos, and we decided to go with the vintage one with the bear on the forehead with a matte finish. 

“Still in matte finish the Bruins ‘B’ logo and the ‘DOBBY’ nickname was incorporated on the chin to add another logo and a more creative feel to it. On the sides we decided to go with what we do best, portraits and realistic [touches]. On the right side we wanted to put what fans see when they go to see a Bruins game: the TD Garden and the Zakim Bridge in a glossy finish to have a contrast.  For the left side we wanted to make a realistic mean bear with a glossy finish to make it stand out in a 3-D feel. Anton wasn't aware of this special paint til a couple days ago! It's just to add something more to the design. We are artists, so we always want to innovate and create. When we showed him the video, he said ‘Wow, awesome!’

There’s no competitive advantage to the sub-zero paint changing colors, but everybody in hockey circles knows the glowing pride any goaltender worth their pads takes in the paint job on their masks. So now the Russian netminder has two distinctive things that separate him from nearly all of the other puck-stoppers in the league: the sub-zero changing paint job that turns dark and dangerous when he takes the ice, and the nine-karat gold-plated cage on his mask that only Khudobin and Tuukka Rask boast amid the 60-plus NHL goalies currently doing business.

Now, if both Rask and Khudobin can play as well as they look on the ice, then the Bruins are going to be in very good shape for the balance of this season as they were in 2012-13 with this exact same goalie tandem.

ONE-TIMERS

*While a ton of attention has been paid to Jacob Trouba and his contract situation in Winnipeg when it comes to Boston’s never-ending search for a top-four, puck-moving defenseman, don’t sleep on the developing situation with the Anaheim Ducks. 

They have roughly $7 million in cap space and a pair of unsigned restricted free agents in Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm with the regular season less than a week away. It certainly could have been worse had they failed to sign Sami Vatanen around July 1, but the expectation is they’re going to need to deal 24-year-old puck-mover Cam Fowler and his $4 million cap hit prior to the season, or more likely early in the season to ease some of the cap gridlock on their roster. 

While Fowler clearly isn’t in the class of P.K. Subban or even Adam Larsson, it will be interesting if Bruins GM Don Sweeney can engineer a player-for-player hockey trade with the Ducks with a lower-priced, younger forward going back to Anaheim in return for Fowler.

That’s the kind of player that is definitely on the Bruins radar and the likelihood is much greater of him getting moved before any GM approaches the ransom Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is looking for in dealing away Trouba. If I were a betting man, I’d expect the Bruins to start the season with their current group of D-men and make some evaluations in the early going, with changes coming quickly if they don’t like what they see.

*The Master of Understatement Brad Marchand had the quote of the week when describing his World Cup experience after dominating en route to the championship. He led all players with five goals scored in six games and also signing a big-money, eight-year contract extension with the Bruins in the middle of it, as well: “It went pretty well, I think.” Yes. You could definitely say that, Brad.

*Of the nine multi-point scorers in this preseason for the Bruins, a whopping seven of them are under the age of 24 (Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, David Pastrnak, Colin Miller, Seth Griffith, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen). That’s an excellent info nugget from the tireless Bruins PR staff, now with a couple of solid new hires in Sarah McMahon and Travis Basciotta helping steer things aboard the USS Black and Gold.

*Remember, keep shooting the puck at the net and good things are bound to happen. 

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

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File Photo

Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

TORONTO – The Bruins will need to take a pivotal Game 4 without their best player as Patrice Bergeron is out for Thursday night’s playoff game at the Air Canada Centre with an upper body injury. Bergeron will be day-to-day moving forward, but that’s not going to help the B’s as they lose one piece of a forward line that’s dominated the Maple Leafs through the first three games of the series.

It’s really not a great sign when the Bruins had two days off in Toronto between Game 3 and Game 4, and Bergeron still wasn’t able to give it a go on Thursday night. Instead it will be Riley Nash centering the top line between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and Tommy Wingels entering back into the lineup with No. 37 out of the lineup. There was a faint sign that something might be up with Bergeron when Riley Nash took some turns in his place at practice on Wednesday afternoon at Air Canada Centre, but no signal whatsoever that something was serious enough to keep him out of the lineup.

It goes without saying that the Bruins might be in big trouble if this Bergeron injury proves to be something that could cause him to miss multiple games in a best-of-seven series where the B’s currently hold a 2-1 lead. Bergeron had five assists and was a plus-4 rating in the first three games of the series with his line amassing 20 points in the first two games of the series.   

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on pregame warm-ups at the Air Canada Centre:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Kuraly-Backes

Schaller-Acciari-Wingels

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

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File Photo

Grzelcyk looks "good to go"; Rooney one of refs for Game 4

TORONTO – It looks like Matt Grzelcyk will be making his return to the Bruins lineup after a one-game absence with a lower body injury.

The Bruins rookie D-man took part in an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre for the Black and Gold on Thursday morning, and will be playing provided he gets through the pregame warm-ups without any hitches. A healthy Grzelcyk will replace Nick Holden in the B’s lineup and give Boston that puck-moving, fast-skating D-man that can be pretty effective counteracting a speedy, aggressive Toronto fourth line that’s been pretty good in the series thus far.

“He’s out there [skating] now, so he should be good to go. Obviously, it will be warm-ups and a game-time decision, but I anticipate he’ll go in,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s complemented well by his partner, who is usually [Adam] McQuaid or [Kevan] Miller. So you get a duo where he’s able to transition the puck very well by himself, and get out of some piles with the D-zone coverage and make a good first pass.

“He can track down pucks before defenses get set or during a line change, he’s good at getting it up [the ice] and seeing who is available. He’s very low risk generally in his game, and he does some very good things at the O-zone blue line to keep plays alive for us.”

The return of Grzelcyk appears to be the only change to the Bruins lineup ahead of a pivotal Game 4 made a little more intriguing by the NHL’s selection of South Boston native Chris Rooney as one of tonight’s referees (along with Gord Dwyer). Rooney has always carried the well-worn reputation of a referee that goes extra-hard on the Bruins to prove there isn’t a bias toward the hometown team, and the Bruins have a 7-9 record over the last three seasons in games officiated by Rooney. It’s not a main reason for the Bruins to either win or lose the game, but certainly something to keep an eye on as things unfold tonight in Toronto.

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on morning skate:  

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE