Bruins

Quick takes road less traveled to Cup Finals

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Quick takes road less traveled to Cup Finals

NEWARK, NJ Jonathan Quick grew up in a big hockey townrelatively speaking, of course.

Connecticut isnt exactly known as a hockey hotbed within the New England region. Massachusetts has traditionally cranked out the most hockey players from the five states and Rhode Island has had some very good ones that have kept the Providence College hockey program alive through the years.

But Quick is used to playing with and against Massachusetts kids and Rhode Island homeboys that constantly win the bragging rights arguments about who has the best hockey.

Hockey was a pretty big deal in my town. I guess it depends on where you go in the state to see how big hockey is, said Quick, a native of Milford, CT. Some parts were big and some not so big. We have a pretty good tradition and some of my high school teammates are pretty excited. Some are Devils fans, though, so Im not sure if theyre on my side. Well find out when its over.

I think Massachusetts still has the best players around. I was lucky enough to be on a pretty good travel team and we played a lot of those guys. Then I ended up going to college at UMass and played with a lot of the guys that grew up in that area. Hockey is hockey no matter where you grew up.

Plenty of the usual suspects from Massachusetts are familiar faces from Quicks past. He played against both Keith Yandle and Corey Schneider in high school while at Avon Old Farms, and has developed a rivalry with Schneider where theyve played against each other in prep school, Division I college hockey, the AHL and the Stanley Cup playoffs along the way.

But the Kings goaltender has the ultimate trump card: hes the one thats still playing hockey right now and hes the odds on favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy with no more than six games left in the season.

With all due apologies and respect to Darien, Connecticuts favorite son, Ryan Shannon, Quick is the best player from the Nutmeg State currently drawing a paycheck in the NHL, and hes shown it throughout the playoffs.

That shouldnt be something that Chris Clark, Colin Wilson or Max Pacioretty or the other 25 players to ever hail from Connecticut should feel upset about either.

While everybody talks about Martin Brodeur in reverential tones normally for players that are no longer active, Quick is the goalie thats feared, loathed and respected by the opposition.

I think hes much more controlled than he used to be. He used to always try to make the amazing saves. He was relying a lot more on his athletic ability, said New Jersey defenseman Peter Harrold, who played against Quick in Hockey East and with him while both players were coming up through the Kings organization. Hes become a much more cerebral goaltender now that can use his athleticism when he needs it. Hes obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world and I assume that hes only going to get better.

Back in college maybe you would have said that Corey Schneider would be an NHL star someday. I dont know that you would have said that about Quick. Guys grow at different rates at different times, but hes proven a lot of people wrong. Hes having a hell of a year.

The former UMass superstar showed flashes of his bright future while out at Amherst. He led the Minutemen to their first NCAA tournament appearance and left the school as the best goaltender in the history of the schools hockey program.

So how different is he from the goaltender that arrived straight from the bucolic Amherst campus to work with LA goalie coach Bill Ranford? Oh, if you would have seen him five years agotheres been a big change, said Ranford. He was probably just like the way I played early in my career. He was all reflex and all athleticism. Hes learned a lot and calmed his game down. Hes generated a really good technical package, but when he needs to get athletic I dont think theres anybody thats better.

Its that versatility to go from quiet, calm puck-blocker to scrambling playmaker in desperate times that separates the average from the great, and its a balance that is difficult to master. But the 26-year-old Quick has done it while lifting up every hockey program hes come into contact with.

He put UMass hockey on the map, and now hes doing the same with the LA Kings as they search for their first Stanley Cup championship.

Dont let the quiet delivery from Quick and the media day hoodie fool you, either. Quick knows exactly whats on the line for his Kings, and just how far theyve come in the four years hes been backstopping in LaLa Land.

Obviously you have dreams watching Mike Richter play and saying to yourself Oh, I want to do that one day. Everybody has those. Youre just playing for whatever team youre on at the time and doing good things for them while trying to win, said Quick. Then you find you could make it to the next level, and then you start going level to level. It never really kicks in until youre there and you start playing well at that level.

Its an exciting time for us and an exciting time for the fans. Its been 19 years since we were last in the Cup Finals and its been 45 years as an organization without winning one. So its exciting to win it for them.

Quick leads all playoff goaltenders with 13 wins, a .946 save percentage and a 1.49 goals against average, and hes been every bit as good as the numbers would suggest. Hell have to continue that if the Kings are going to finish off a devastating run through the postseason as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. But theres no reason to think Quick will suddenly turn into a puddle staring at Brodeur the legend at the other end of the ice, and every reason to think hell be another example of a hot goaltender serving as the main ingredient in winning the Stanley Cup.

Not bad for a kid from that hockey hotbed of Connecticut, eh?

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

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“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

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