Bruins

Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference

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Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins didn't practice on Friday, but several players, along with coach Claude Julien were available to the media, a day after their dramatic come-from-behind overtime win in Montreal that evened their playoff series at 2-2.

The two biggest stories of the day were Tim Thomas receiving a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, and Andrew Ference's 2,500 fine for pointing his middle finger to the Montreal crowd after scoring Boston's second goal on Thursday night.

Thomas was asked about officially being a Vezina Trophy finalist, and after losing his starting job to Tuukka Rask last year, his response was just as expected.

"Very happy to hear that, obviously," said Thomas inside the Bruins locker room at the TD Garden on Friday. "After last year, wasnt quite sure if Id ever hear that again. And so obviously very happy."

Thomas will be a favorite to capture the award, over Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne, but with the timing of the announcement coming right in the middle of a crucial playoff series with the Canadiens, Thomas was asked if talk of the award will be a distraction.

"Only if you make it," said Thomas. "Its weird timing, that we happen to be in the middle of a very tough first round series. So its really, to be honest with you, its an honor. And I could talk about it right now but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series. I wont be thinking about the Vezina later today."

Distracted or not, everyone in the organization feels he's worthy.

"I think its pretty obvious to me, and Tim is very deserving of that nomination, and obviously I am a big fan of what he has done this year," Julien said on Friday. "And if you ask me he certainly deserves it and Im sure that would get some arguments from other places. But Im certainly going to support Tim for the season hes had. Especially what he went through last year and to bounce back this year and have that kind of season, he is certainly very deserving. So I wish him all the luck and hope that he wins what he deserves."

Julien also commented on Ference's hand gesture to the Montreal crowd, saying that all he plans on doing is backing his player.

"With Andrew, I think hes been pretty open at what he thinks of the situation and his comments were pretty clear," Julien said. "And Im going to support my player. Thats my job, to support and believe your player and thats what I am going to do."

A day later, Ference was sticking with his story, that the finger in his glove got stuck, and that all he was doing was giving a fist pump.

"I talked to Mike Murphy of the NHL this morning and explained the same thing that I told you guys last night," said Ference. "He said the same thing, that it looks awful, obviously. And with this series, the whole year, how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, the fine was acceptable.

"I was pumping my fist," added Ference. "Im not giving anyone the bird or anything like that. Like I told them, it was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it, it wasnt meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there. Thats definitely not the intention."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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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