Bruins

Wakeup Call: Did I say scared? What I meant was . . .

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Wakeup Call: Did I say scared? What I meant was . . .

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, February 7:

BASEBALL
Kings of Denial: The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta . . . (AP)

. . . the Orioles' (and ex-Red Sox) Danny Valencia . . . (CSN Baltimore)

. . . and the Mariners' Jesus Montero and the Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera all say they have no connection, none, with the Florida anti-aging clinic currently under investigation by Major League Baseball. (AP)

Todd Helton "humbly" asks for the public's forgiveness after being arrested on a DUI charge in a suburban Denver town. (AP)

Baseball's most famous Tea Partier is back with the Rays. (AP)

What did your mother always tell you about horsing around? (AP)

Even in 1865, mothers were throwing away valuable old baseball cards. (AP via nbcsports.com)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
An upsetting night: No. 2 Kansas loses to the Topeka YMCA, excuse me, at TCU . . . (AP)

. . . No. 16 Creighton is blown out at Indiana State . . . (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

and No. 17 Cincinnati is the latest to fall to "no longer a pushover" Providence College. (College Basketball Talk)

Coaches getting fired -- or "resigning" -- in midseason used to be unheard of in college basketball. Now . . . (College Basketball Talk)

At last, a suspect and a motive in the stunning murder of Cal State Fullerton women's assistant Monica Quan and her financee: An ex-L.A. cop who was represented by Kwan's father before a disciplinary board when he lost his job. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Who won and who lost on National Signing Day? Take a look. (footballrecruiting.rivals.com, via NBC Sports)

Even LeBron James was impressed at the job done by Mississippi, which snared the No. 1 player in the country: Robert Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Loganville, Ga. (AP)

But national champion Alabama was happy with its haul, as well. (AP)

As was Ohio State. (AP)

And -- surprisingly -- Penn State. (AP)

Some of the experts say Notre Dame did better than anyone, and coach Brian Kelly "loves agreeing with experts." (AP)

The Irish recruits say they're ready for the challenge of trying to win starting jobs on a deep, talented team. (CSN Chicago)

Any doubt that Ray Lewis III would head to the U.? (AP)

-- Meddling mothers . . . (NBC's College Football Talk)

CYCLING
I imagine Lance Armstrong will become very familiar with the insides of courtrooms over the next few years, and it's starting now. (AP via nbcsports.com)

GOLF
Bifurcation and deer antlers are taking attention away from what's been a sensational first month to the 2013 season. (AP)

HOCKEY
John Tortorella is a breath of fresh air in the Belichikian world of publicly mealy-mouthed coaches, but sometimes he goes a bit too far. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Worried about Ilya Kovalchuk, who's muddling along with two goals and five points in nine games? Pete DeBoer isn't. (Pro Hockey Talk)

It's just a "lower-body injury." He's day-to-day. That's what the Flames say about Miika Kiprusoff. What they do, however, is sign another goalie, Danny Taylor. (AP)

The Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinksy avoids a suspension -- but not a 10,000 fine -- for boarding the Kings' Rob Scuderi the other night. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Even though the NBA has been this far untouched by the public PED scandals that have plagued baseball and are now beginning to taint football as well, commissioner David Stern thinks it's time to test for HGH in his league. (AP)

Yeah, Stan Van Gundy said John Wall's not an elite talent and may have reached the ceiling of his potential and isn't the kind of guy you can build your franchise around, but that doesn't mean he doesn't think he's, you know, good. (CSN Washington)

Wall was good enough last night to help the Wizards snap the Knicks' five-game winning streak. (AP)

The diagnosis is in: Torn plantar fascia for Pau Gasol. (AP)

David Stern and national television were a bad mix for the Spurs earlier this year, but not last night. (AP)

Back when Rick Carlisle was sitting on the Celtics' bench during the glory days of the 1980s, who would have thought he'd amass 500 career wins -- and counting -- as an NBA coach? (AP)

That's three wins in three nights for the Pacers. (AP)

And that's the season for Jason Richardson. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Geez, just because we fired the guy doesn't mean we won't give him a Super Bowl ring. (CSN Baltimore)

More veterans are shown the door: Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty by the Giants . . . (AP)

. . . and Demetress Bell by the Eagles. (CSN Philly)

Donald Driver shows himself the door in Green Bay. (AP)

The Raiders say that, despite what many think, they're not trying to sneak out the door in Oakland. (CSN Bay Area)

But they are blocking off "Mt. Davis" -- that hideous monstrosity of new seats that was built as part of the effort to lure them back from Los Angeles in 1995 -- to lower the seating capacity of whatever their stadium is called now and, they hope, get them more sellouts. (CSN Bay Area)

Tragic news: The aunt and uncle of 49ers tight end Delanie Walker were killed by a drunk driver early Monday morning in New Orleans after San Francisco's Super Bowl loss to Baltimore. (CSN Bay Area)

SOCCER
There weren't many -- as in, any -- whose stocks rose after the United States' 2-1 loss to Honduras in their World Cup qualifying opener. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
First Rafael Nadal won a doubles match in his comeback from a knee injury. Now he wins in singles. (AP)

Venus Williams' back is still bothering her, so she's skipping the Qatar Open. (AP)

Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

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Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wishing everybody a safe night before Thanksgiving. Be careful out there, people.

*The New York Times has a very sad story on former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, as told to the Times through a series of emails and texts from Peat’s dad as he struggles with a number of seemingly concussion-related issues in his post-hockey life.

*There’s nothing better than some Benn on Benn brotherly crime as Jordie Benn lays a hit on Jamie Benn in the Stars vs. Habs game.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector has the Edmonton Oilers hitting a new low after they quit in a loss to the St. Louis Blues.

*Duncan Keith said he wants to play until he’s 45 and defy the odds as one of the few that get a chance to play pro hockey for that long.

*Dylan Larkin is flourishing with the Detroit Red Wings as he’s adding more responsibility to his chores in Hockeytown.

*A Happy Thanksgiving to the Boychuks and all the other great people around the NHL, including Matt Beleskey with the Bruins, who take time out of their days to help make sure everybody has a good meal on Turkey Day.

*For something completely different: Excited for my kids that there is going to be more Trolls in their future starting with a Christmas special on Friday.

 


 

Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

Bruins won't win Cup with Rask in net, and need to start planning for future

One season could be an outlier. Two seasons is a trend. Three seasons is a long-term pattern that doesn’t figure to change.

For the last three seasons Boston’s $7 million man between the pipes, Tuukka Rask, has been more ordinary than extraordinary, and that’s a troubling development. At this point it’s enough to convince this humble hockey writer that the Bruins will never win a Stanley Cup with Rask as their No. 1 goaltender, and that should become a real issue in the next few years as the Bruins build back up to contender status.

Anton Khudobin will make his third straight start Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, and that makes all the sense in the world: The backup has dramatically outplayed the starter this year. Just compare Khudobin’s NHL-leading .935 save percentage to Rask's pathetic .897, and the fact that the Bruins have pulled points from every single game Khudobin has started.

That’s all short-term stuff, but it's important as the Bruins are desperate for point to stay on the outskirts of the playoff picture. Long term, the B's are aiming toward being a Cup contender in a couple of years, when youngsters like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo, Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk will be entering their primes, and grizzled, winning veterans like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will still have something left in the tank.

But what of the goaltending?

Rask, 30, still has an impressive career .922 save percentage, and nobody can take away his Vezina Trophy or his All-Star level seasons. But his save percentages have dropped noticeably: It's a combined .915 in the last two full seasons, and is below .900 now. He’s become predictable in his approach to shooters, consistently dropping to give them high, open targets around the net. And it feels like he’s lost some of the competitive fire he had when he was a milk-crate-tossing prospect in the minor leagues.

The stretches where he gives up soft goals have gotten longer, and -- as is necessary with a changing, aging cast of defensive personnel -- Rask rarely steals games when the Bruins are outplayed. The organization has also come to the determination that he loses effectiveness if he plays more than 55-60 times ia season.

In short, Rask is being paid as a $7 million-a-year franchise goalie, but he's not playing like one. And there's four years beyond this left on the contract.

The Bruins will have to play him and pump up his value if they any hopes of trading him in the future. He'll have to be inserted back in the lineup at some point anyway, because let’s face it: Khudobin and Zane McIntyre aren’t the answers as his replacement. The B's need to draft, sign or trade for Rask’s heir apparent, and pave the way for that goaltender to be in Boston a couple of years from now when they're again ready for a Stanley Cup push.

Rask proved he wasn’t good enough to carry a talented Bruins team over the top when he crumbled at the end of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks, and he’s been spotty, and oft-times unreliable, in big games ever since. It’s time for the Bruins to begin the search process for a goalie that can take them on a Cup run when they’re ready for it.

After nine seasons, Rask has proven he isn’t that guy.

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