Bruins

Notes: Krejci continues his stellar play

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Notes: Krejci continues his stellar play

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA, Fla. Dont look now, but David Krejci is blossoming into something special during Bostons run through the playoffs.

Its true that things got a little scary in the first period when Krejci got a bit of a buddy pass from Dennis Seidenberg and was knocked for a loop by a hard-charging Marc-Andre Bergeron fresh off the Tampa Bay bench. That came after Krejci had already scored Bostons first goal of the game directly in front of the Lightning net, and perhaps he was paying the physicalprice for his offensive diligence.

The big hockeyhit got Krejci directly in the chest before the Tampa Bay defenseman finished off the check by extending the elbow toward the center's head, andthe impactdropped the creative center to one knee for extended seconds. But he was simply trying to catch his breath and perhaps stifle his laughter as he watched Lightning coach Guy Boucher lose his mind once an elbowing penalty was assessed to Bergeron on the play.

Krejci stayed on the bench for the rest of the period,collected himself in the dressing room between the first and second, and thendidnt miss a shift the rest of the way after putting a good scare into everybody.

I looked and I saw one defenseman on the second blue line, like they always have, said Krejci. I started thinking about what I was going to do when I get over the line and getting ready, and then I heard guys on the bench yelling Heads up!'

Seids said he was sorry for making the pass because then he saw the guy jump off the bench. Maybe the league will look at the video, but Im fine so it doesnt really matter. I stayed on the ice. I told assistant coach Geoff Ward that I just needed to catch my breath for a few minutes and Id be okay.

Its a good thing Krejci is fine because hes been an unstoppable offensive force since the end of the seven-game series against Montreal. The Czech Republic playmaker has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in his last seven games, and has the confidence flowing at high levels as evidenced by the patience to pull off double moves on his first goal.

Add in winning 13 out of 18 faceoffs, and that finished offa pretty complete two-wayeffort.

The pivotal play in the game arrived just 69 seconds in, as Milan Lucic controlled the puck in the corner and watched in a mixture of amusement and aweas both Brett Clark and Victor Hedman converged on him away from the net.

With two players already on Nathan Horton and the fifth Lightning skater guarding a seam against one of Bostons defenseman, Lucic simply spotted Krejcis stick all alone in front of the net and flipped a pass into the area. Krejci collected the puck and faked forehand to get Dwayne Roloson sprawling forward, and then patientlyswitched to his backhand to score his seventh goal of the playoffs.

I was looking for Horton in the slot and he had two guys on him, said Lucic. I had two guys running at me and I saw a stick in front of the net. So I said All right, Ive got Krejci in front of the net.' I just made the play, and he did an even better job of making the play and finishing things off. It felt like 5-10 seconds before Krejci shot but he obviously did what he needed to do.

That first goal is huge in any game.

It was the fourth game-winning goal for Krejci during his current playoff run, tying Cam Neelys 1991 franchise record for game-winning goals in a playoff series.

Tim Thomas recorded his second career postseason shutout with a 31-save effort in a solid bounceback less-than-stellar performances in Games 1 and 2.

His one-two combination of stops on a spinning Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcellin the first period set the tone for the entire game.

It was kind of a product of the way the game goes in front of me, said Thomas. I was able to play more under control tonight. A lot of that has to do with the way we played the way Im used to. I felt comfortable in a game like that.

Zdeno Chara seemed to be battling a cold or illness of some kind postgame, but gritted his way to 28:27 of ice time, good for second-most on the Bruins. It was behind only Dennis Seidenberg, who clocked in at 28:30.

Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup and played 19-plus minutes, logged time on the penalty kill and power play, and was his usual versatile, valuable self when it came to helping in every area of Bostons game plan. The 25-year-old finally spoke after the game and said that hes been feeling better for more than a week, a sign of how his body now reacts to a mild concussion.

There were no complications, no scary symptoms and really no evidence of the past head injuries for Bergeron, and he jumped right into the physical fray for Boston without worrying about possible consequences.

I felt pretty good out there, said Bergeron. I was pretty glad to be back to help the team. I didnt know which game Id return. It was a matter of taking it one day at a time after it felt good for the past week.

I decided I was ready to go and I had some practices this week. I didnt want to put pressure on myself. When I do that Im just making things worse.

Tomas Kaberle had three blocked shots for the Bruins a number that led the Bs team and none were bigger than his smothering of a Simon Gagne shot late in the third period when Thomas had vacated the net briefly dealing with the action around the cage. While the power play continued to struggle for the Bruins in Game Three, the Bruins coaching staff might be onto something with Kaberle and Tyler Seguin working together on one of the units. Some of the best puck movement in the playoffs arrived when the two offensive minded players were working between the half-wall and the point.

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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