Bruins

Shawn Thornton on why players haven't accepted deal

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Shawn Thornton on why players haven't accepted deal

Bruins winger Shawn Thornton joined Gary Tanguay and Mike Felger on UNO's Sports Tonight Tuesday night and discussed the current state of the NHL lockout.

So, how's he feeling about it all right now?

"Frustrated, angry, would like to just be playing but obviously it's out of our hands right now," Thornton said. "It seems like it's just another money grab and won't fix anything. It's kind of our stance so we're looking for ways to fix it but the league doesn't really want to hear our ideas."

Thornton, who expects the league and players to start up talks again soon, isn't sure about how long the lockout could last. But he knows why the players are taking a stand.

"Right now it's either a 24-percent roll back was the first offer from the owners," Thornton said. "The second one was 18-20 percent depending on certain numbers. We want to fix it. We know there's some markets that are in trouble and we want to help those markets by growing the game in those markets and going forward, but just reaching into our pockets and taking 20-percent of our contracts that we negotiated in good faith we don't think is the answer."

While some owners are crying poor, others are signing players with no issue. Some are both crying poor and signing players to big contracts.

"We had Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold in the negotiating committee for the league saying how terrible he was doing, then he signed 240 million (closer to 200 million) worth of contract for two guys over 14 years the next day," Thornton said. "So it's very confusing for everyone, us included. It's tough to believe it sometimes but we're trying to figure out a way to get through it."

Some NHL players can go to the KHL in Russia and still get paid a high enough salary to make it worth not signing a bad deal with the owners. Felger notes Penguins star Evgeni Malkin as one example.

But for a guy like Thornton, that money isn't available like that. Thornton admits he's starting to get his "ducks in a row" in terms of playing overseas if need be, but he also hopes it doesn't come to that.

"I'm still optimistic, I still hope we get this done in the next little bit," he said. "But I also don't want to get caught with my pants down either."

As far as missing an entire year of hockey, it would certainly hurt someone like Thornton's bank account. But just like players before him took a hit for the future of the game, Thornton is prepared to do the same.

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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