Bruins

Bruins not ready to name starting goalie for Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay

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Bruins not ready to name starting goalie for Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay

BRIGHTON -- While the Bruins stopped short of announcing who'll be in goal for Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Bruce Cassidy continued to maintain that the embattled Tuukka Rask is their No. 1 goaltender.

Anton Khudobin, riding a four-game winning streak, is one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, while Tuukka Rask is 3-8-2 this season after giving up three goals on 35 shots in Sunday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers. But, when pressed, Cassidy said he still has no qualms about Rask being “the guy."

“Ideally I’d like both goalies to give us a chance to win every night and be at the top of their game," said Cassidy. "That’s what we need and that hasn’t changed. It’s just maybe the script has changed a bit from what we thought [it would be]. I think we’ve seen that with Anton, and with Tuukka it’s not there yet. He’s out there competing, but it just hasn’t all pulled together for him yet. It’s a product of the individual and it’s a product of the way the team has played in front of him. If we can get both a little bit better, then the results will be there.

“We’re not afraid to use either goaltender right now. It’s not an exact science. Tuukka is our No. 1 and Anton is our backup, and our backup has played really well. He’s really pushing our No. 1 and we wanted it that way. So hopefully our No. 1 gets his game up there where they’re both playing at their top game. That’s what we want.”

Clearly it’s an odd situation for Rask, who sat for four straight games while healthy for the first time since he was still backing up Tim Thomas in 2011-12. But he wore a calm, confident face while talking after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

Rask indicated the answer was pretty simple when asked what he wants to accomplish the next time he starts.

“Win,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s definitely different, but it hasn’t been difficult. It makes you work harder in practice. You definitely don’t want to take anything for granted and your work ethic has to be there no matter what, so you just have to prove yourself every practice that you’re still sharp. Then when you get a chance to play you get your chance to win.

“You’ve got to earn your playing time. I’m pretty sure if I play lights out then I’m going to be playing all the time. If [Khudobin] plays lights out and I play lights out then we’re [both] going to play, and if Dobie plays lights out and I’m not then he’s going to play. I think the situation is going to resolve itself, and I think we’re both in a good situation where we feel good about our games. I haven’t gotten the wins, but I feel like I’ve been on top of my game. I’m just hoping that the results will follow.”

Given that Khudobin is still riding a winning streak, the most reasonable call would be to play Khudobin against Tampa Bay and then reassess the situation again based on how he fares against the high-powered Bolts. It’s clear, though, that sooner or later the Bruins are going to start calling Rask’s number with regularity, and it might happen against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia teams that he’s routinely dominated over the course of his mostly standout career in Boston.

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Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

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Bruins' Bjork out for season after undergoing shoulder surgery

TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months. 

Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin. 

The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.

He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury. 

Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.

Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.

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Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

Bruins trade Vatrano to Florida for third-round pick

TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick. 

The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.

Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.

In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.

There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.

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