Tough guy Zac Rinaldo won't be returning to the Bruins


Tough guy Zac Rinaldo won't be returning to the Bruins

The Bruins haven’t officially parted ways with too many of their own impending free agents to this point in the process, but they will be breaking ties with fourth-line energy forward Zac Rinaldo. The winger was told this week that he won’t be back with the Bruins now that his contract is up, and Rinaldo had already changed his Twitter avatar back to a photo of him during his days with the Broad Street Bullies.

The 27-year-old Rinaldo spent all of last season at the AHL level while posting five goals and seven points in 29 games for the P-Bruins, and was a minus-12 on a roster littered with talented prospects targeted for the NHL.

Rinaldo actually never played another NHL game for the Bruins after getting suspended five games for a head shot on Cedric Paquette late in the 2015-16 season.

Rinaldo was going to be hard-pressed to ever live up to the third-round draft pick that the B’s rashly shipped to Philadelphia for him prior to the 2015-16 season, and was never the hard-hitting, fast-skating and penalty-killing fourth liner that Don Sweeney envisioned when they traded for him. That trade still lingers as one of the biggest early mistakes in Sweeney’s tenure running the Bruins, and a clear instance in poor asset management giving up a third rounder for the kind of NHL player that can be found elsewhere at the minor league level.

Truth be told, Rinaldo was never a great fit for the Black and Gold and his agent, Todd Reynolds, said he now hopes to re-spark his NHL career after being told he was done with the B’s.

“Zac will not be returning - the Bruins have made that very clear based on how things have gone in 16-17,” wrote Reynolds in an email to CSN New England of Rinaldo, who finished his B’s career with one goal, three points and 83 penalty minutes in 52 games for Boston. “His goal is to sign elsewhere and rejuvenate his NHL career.”

It will be interesting to see if Rinaldo hooks on anywhere else in the NHL while still due to serve a five-game suspension in the NHL for the hit on Paquette two seasons ago. Rinaldo did play four full NHL seasons with the Flyers prior to being traded to Boston, and there is arguably even more of a place in the league now for players like him that hit hard, skate fast and habitually step over the line with borderline hits. 

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault


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.


Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask


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).


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.