Bruins

'Another strong game' for Khudobin in return from injury

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'Another strong game' for Khudobin in return from injury

TORONTO – The Bruins fell in overtime after failing to hold a tight one-goal lead at the end of the third period, but it was no reflection on the goaltender.

Anton Khudobin hadn’t played in more than two weeks because of a lower-body injury, but came back with minimal rust and stopped 30-of-33 shots in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. The overtime loss puts Khudobin at 3-0-2 in five starts on the season, and the Bruins veteran backup hasn’t yet lost in regulation after not securing his second win of last season until February.

While that’s something to be proud of given how important a backup goalie’s effectiveness is to the overall success of a hockey team, Khudobin can’t help but be disappointed when the Bruins are on the losing end of one of his appearances.

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“It’s tough to say because it was a tough loss, but at least we got the point,” said Khudobin. “Overall I thought we played pretty well. We did a lot of good things. Maybe we didn’t score enough or maybe I didn’t stop enough [pucks]…I don’t know. But overall I thought we played pretty well; we just didn’t get rewarded.

“There is always something we can fix in this game, so we’re going to continue to work. But we’re moving forward.”

All three Toronto goals on Friday night were from Leafs players that were essentially uncovered in front of the net: A James van Riemsdyk power play goal in the second period, a JVR redirect in the last minute of the third period with Toronto employing an extra attacker for the pulled goalie and an odd-man rush in 3-on-3 overtime after Mitch Marner had stripped David Pastrnak of the puck at the offensive blue line.   

Khudobin made some excellent saves throughout the nip-and-tuck game including a first period stop on Nazem Kadri in the first period, and a third period save on Dominic Moore trying to rush the net prior to the eventual tying goal.

“It was another strong game,” said Bruce Cassidy of Khudobin, who is actually tied for 19th in the NHL with his .923 save percentage on the season. “Listen, the guy has been really good for us. He seems like he’s tightening up his game as we’ve gone along too. It seemed like he had some rebound issues early [in the season], but he’s really tightened those up.

“He has better control. Give him credit against a good offensive team, and [his teammates] played fairly well in front of him. Give him a lot of credit.”

Khudobin will get as much credit as one can get in a game where his hockey team coughed up a one-goal lead late in the game, but the hope now is that Tuukka Rask can pick up the slack on Saturday vs. the Leafs in the second half of the home-and-home series. 

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.

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