Bruins

Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

The Boston Bruins are set to kick off their training camp for the 2017-18 NHL regular season on Thursday morning with fitness testing at Warrior Ice Arena, but they’ll be missing one key player from the roster. B’s 21-year-old right winger David Pastrnak remains behind in his native Czech Republic as his agent and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney continue to try to work toward a contract extension for the game-breaking forward. 

Pastrnak won’t be returning to North American until he has a contract agreed upon, and therefore won’t be in attendance for the start of camp on Thursday. Instead Pastrnak will seek out a team to work out with in Europe if the holdout becomes a long term situation, and will be forced to explore other options for the season aside from Boston. 

For now, though, there is still plenty of time for Pastrnak to get signed to a big contract and quickly make the cross-continental flight to be on the ice for the weekend with little harm done to his preparation for the upcoming season. Pastrnak’s agent said he continues to go over ideas with Sweeney in very open lines of communication, and the two sides are talking about multiple deals with varying lengths of term. 

“I’m still talking to Don on a few terms, but no breakthroughs yet,” said Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, in a text message to CSN New England. “We will keep at it.”

It certainly sounds like it’s entirely up to the Bruins to provide the “breakthrough” in negotiations that’s finally going to close the deal with their young player. 

The increase in discussion between the two sides comes in direct proportion to the ticking clock when Pastrnak’s absence from camp begins to negatively impact his season. It’s believed that the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp are a little closer than previously when the two sides were $2 million apart in average annual value (AAV) of the contract. It’s likely that the Bruins aren’t currently willing to go much past the $6.75 per season million handed out to Johnny Gaudreau a year ago, and Pastrnak’s camp could be convinced to take the $7.5 million per season that Vladimir Tarasenko signed for in St. Louis a couple of years ago. 

Both are undoubtedly comparable contracts to Pastrnak, and that would leave around $7 million per season on a long term deal as the amount it would probably take to finally close the deal with the 21-year-old sniper. Pastrnak’s teammates and the Bruins coaching staff are undoubtedly hoping that things get done sooner rather than later, and that he’s able to step into camp and take his place on the right side alongside David Krejci early on in the preseason process. 

“You coach the guys that are there. You’re putting lines together all summer, and now at this particular moment you’re thinking about who is going to be on David [Krejci’s] right side if Pasta isn’t here. That’s about as far as it’s gone in that regard,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think with most guys if they miss some time, they’re playing a little bit of catch-up. How much catch-up? That’s speculation. How far behind? That’s speculation.

“But generally there is a bit of a catch-up period [with holdouts]. But let’s face it for his sake and for our sake, let’s hope there it’s very little if any at all [time missed].”

At the very least Pastrnak is going to miss the first official day of training camp for the Bruins, and will begin missing crucial on-ice practice days beginning Friday if the two sides haven’t been able to work out a suitable contract. 

Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

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Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

The entire concept of Tuukka Rask getting pushed by one of his backups is based on the backup consistently performing at a high standard, and that wasn’t the case for Anton Khudobin over the weekend.

Just as it isn’t solely the fault of Rask when the Bruins lose, it wasn’t solely the fault of Khudobin that Boston squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Saturday night. But Khudobin couldn’t step up and carry the B's when they clearly started losing their edge in the second half of the game, and that inconsistency will certainly make the Bruins pine for a sooner-rather-than-later return of a concussed Rask.

“Erratic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy when asked to describe Khudobin postgame. “He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. He certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him. But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.”

It was certainly too much to expect Khudobin to be perfect, but they just needed him to be good enough to pull them through while they were getting waylaid in the second half of the game. That proved to be a major challenge, given the players the Bruins are missing and the extremely rough night suffered by Torey Krug (minus-3 on Saturday night, and minus-8 for the season). Khudobin finished with 37 stops as a defense corps without Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller wilted in the third period and the overtime, but he couldn’t make the clean saves for whistles when the team really needed them. Case in point was a Rasmus Ristolainen tester in overtime while the Bruins were in the midst of being outshot by a 6-0 margin in the extra session. Khudobin got a glove on it but couldn’t cleanly catch it for a badly needed stoppage in play at a time when Krug, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had been caught on the ice for over two minutes.

"The start was great, and the game was great until we scored the fourth goal, and I think after that, we thought it was an easy game,” said Khudobin. “[The high volume of shots] wasn’t that much difficult, I like shots, like probably every other goalie, but they were crashing the net. They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net, which were . . .that’s the dangerous part, not just the shots.”

Khudobin, 31, has taken five of a possible six points in the games he's played this season and is off to a solid start with a 2-0-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He looks like he’s going to be a perfectly fine backup, enabling the Bruins to hold Rask to the 55-60 games they’ve forecasted for his peak performance this season.

But Saturday night was a major blow to any hopes that Rask would be pushed competitively by his backup, and that a Khudobin hot streak could spark a slow-starting, and now injured, Rask when he does return.

Instead the Bruins are left to hope they can survive while missing Rask along with a number of other key players, and that the goalie returns sooner than later to a team that can’t survive too many morale-crushing defeats like the choke job against the lowly Sabres.

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.