Bruins

Notes: Horton travels to Vancouver with Bruins

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Notes: Horton travels to Vancouver with Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow@hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER There is little doubt Nathan Horton has been an inspiration to the Bruins since going down with a severe concussion in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The affable, ever-smiling right winger is a favorite of his teammates in the Bs dressing room and he was their Game 7 hero when he potted the winning goals against both the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lighting during Bostons playoff run.

There were a lot of smiles when Horton appeared on the TD Garden jumbotron during Game 6, waving yellow Bruins towels in both hands, and even more when it was learned he had hopped on the Bs team charter and was traveling to Vancouver for the decisive Game 7 against the Canucks.

There were rumblings from Rogers SportsNet that Horton was trying to convince the Bruins to let him play on Wednesday night but theres no shot of that, given the right wing was still suffering concussion symptoms just prior to Game 6 in Boston. His attitude is more about continuing to be a part of the Bruins as they attempt to finish off the job that Horton helped them start. It's also about potentially participating in the celebration if the Bruins are able to win at Rogers Arena.

The Bruins will set up Hortons equipment and sweater in his dressing room stall as he if was going to play.

That's something the guys wanted to do, said coach Claude Julien. They wanted him to be part of our group here. Until the third game of the Final, he was a big contributor to our hockey club. If the doctors would let him, he would play Wednesday and we all know that that's the way he feels right now. He would be willing to play through what he's gone through.

Though Horton can't play, his teammates will certainly include their fallen No. 1 right wing in everything leading up to the game.

It is special, said Julien. He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip. As you know, when you get this far, you're a pretty close-knit group. Our guys wanted everybody here and they've got it."

The Bruins also plan to send out some positive vibes to Marc Savard, who also had a great deal to do with whats been built in Boston over the last four years.

Marc is probably the only one right now that's not here and his health varies from day to day, week to week," Julien said. "He's still in our thoughts and he's part of our hockey club as well. We've got a lot of guys that are part of this and some of them are here and one of 'em isn't.

Horton was clearly emotional during Game 6 when he was put up on the TD Garden jumbotron amid huge applause from Bruins fans, and perhaps thats what has No. 18 trying to talk his way into playing.

That isnt going to be happen, but it wont stop from potentially being a smiling part of history when things unfold in Game 7.

Vancouver GM Mike Gillis was clearly not happy about the lack of a penalty or suspension given to Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk after his collision with Mason Raymond that left the Canucks winger out for Game 7 with a compressed vertebrae injury.

Things looked scary as Raymond was wobbly and basically carried off the ice after laying face down for a long stretch. Gillis contends that the puck was nowhere near either player, making it a punishable hit.

Replays were inconclusive and the NHL said in an e-mail that it amounted to an awkward collision that didnt merit suspensions or penalties.

I haven't had any discussion with the league after last night. All I can tell you is my observations of the hit, said Gillis. I didn't see the puck around him. I thought Boychuk used a can opener and drove him into the boards with enough force to break his back. That's what I saw. I don't have much more to say about that other than that observation.

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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