Bruins

Thornton gladly takes one for the team

715810.jpg

Thornton gladly takes one for the team

WILMINGTON The biggest surprise for the Bruins in the Game 6 victory over the Capitals had to have been the inspiring play of injured center Patrice Bergeron.

But second place has to belong to Claude Julien scratching Bs enforcer Shawn Thornton to make room in the lineup for 21-year-old rookie Jordan Caron on the fourth line.

Thornton had nearly triggered a stirring comeback in Game 5: a pair of physical shifts including one bowling over Matt Hendricks and repeatedly challenging John Erskine helped swing the games momentum into a two-goal outburst for the Black and Gold.

But instead Thornton found himself in a suit eating popcorn and watching Game 6 at the Verizon Center for a couple of different reasons.

The Bruins were clearly looking for offensive spark and a little more finish right around the net a couple of areas where Caron has been a big help down the stretch of the regular season with 10 of his 15 regular season points coming in March and April. But Julien also needed a player on the fourth line that could potentially move up into a top-six forward spot if Bergeron exited the game quickly.

Instead Bergeron played close to 19 minutes of ice time and Caron registered a shot on goal in 4:56 of ice time in the Game 6 victory. So Thornton could very well be in the mix again for Game 7 after Bergeron came through perfectly on Sunday afternoon, but the Bs tough guy said he understood either way.

Nobody wants to be a healthy scratch, but at this time of year its about the bigger picture. Its about whatever it takes to get the win, said Thornton. We got the win to get us to Game 7 and thats all that matters.

Thornton was all caffeinated up and ready to go after his half-dozen cups of coffee just prior to Game 6, and was totally surprised when Julien gave him the bad news. But the Bs tough guy said hed gladly go through that exact same routine again if it meant his hockey club was advancing to the next round.

Claude and I talked about it yesterday. We had a good chat. It was what was best and I was extremely okay with it. I think people are a little surprised at how okay I was with it, said Thornton. I get scratched every year in the playoffs, so its nothing new. You could probably take my quotes from each of the last four years during the playoffs and use them instead. Its the same thing. Obviously I want to play, but its not about me at this time of year.

Having a team player as the guy that gets the playing time shaft in the playoffs is obviously the ideal situation for a hockey coach, and Julien appreciated that Thornton made a difficult decision just a little easier.

Thats what Shawn is all about and thats why hes always been appreciated. We appreciate him as a player first and foremost and as a person, but what he does when he drops the gloves is something that is part of his strength, said Julien. Sometimes a coach has to make decisions, its nothing personal, its nothing about the player its what we need for this certain game and thats all it was.

He understands that stuff; hes been through it many times, even before he came here. Hes all about the team and whatever we need to do hes going to support us. Hes as happy today as he was the day before he got pulled out of the lineup.

And Thornton will probably be even happier if his No. 22 gets called for Wednesday nights Game 7 with his hard-nosed intensity and infectious swagger always useful in do-or-die hockey scenarios.

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

cp-bruins-agostino-092217.jpg

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. 

MORE BRUINS:

“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. 

MORE BRUINS:

“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. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE