Bruins

Bergeron doesn't skate with Bruins, expected to miss more games

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Bergeron doesn't skate with Bruins, expected to miss more games

GLENDALE, Arizona – Patrice Bergeron hopped on the bench for the end of Bruins practice at the Gila River Arena home of the Arizona Coyotes, but it was just the 32-year-old getting a head start on a post-practice skate on his own. While head coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn’t rule Bergeron out for this weekend’s games vs. the Coyotes and Golden Knights, the Bruins do-it-all center looks like he’ll miss the weekend with the mysterious lower-body injury that’s already caused him to miss the three games of the season.  

It’s been weeks since Bergeron was able to go through a full-tilt practice with the Bruins, and that will have to change before No. 37 is going to get tossed back into games. Cassidy wouldn’t completely rule out a miracle in the desert with Bergeron somehow being able to play, but it doesn’t sound like that’s in the cards for him.

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“He’s out there skating [on his own] so that’s a good sign, but obviously not being able to participate in practice you’re always concerned that you need one of those good practices before you can play. It doesn’t look like he’ll be in, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” said Cassidy. “It hurts. He’s arguably our best player night in and night out. He makes people around him better and we use him in all situations.

“We need to find somebody else to go in and do [the job]. It’s that simple. I’ll do that on the phone with my wife tonight. I’ll complain about missing him, but now he’s not in. So it’s next man up. I know it sounds simple, but we have to have guys in that locker room that are going to get hungry and respond to that challenge.”

So far Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner have skated in place of the injured Bergeron, and neither one has been able to adequately fill in for the four-time Selke Trophy winner.

Kevan Miller left practice early after taking a puck off the top of his right knee and was helped back to the dressing room in a scary-looking scene. Cassidy said afterward it might have been a case of Miller’s leg simply going dead after taking the shot off the knee, but it looked like he had dodged a bullet and was going to be okay. With Bergeron expected to miss a couple more games this weekend, here are the line combos and D-pairings with Austin Czarnik potentially replacing Ryan Spooner as third-line center in the game night lineup:

 

Marchand-Nash-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Beleskey-Czarnik/Spooner-Vatrano

Schaller-Kuraly-Heinen

White

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Miller-McAvoy

Postma

 

Khudobin

Rask 

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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.


 

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.