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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McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

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McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

BRIGHTON, Mass – It marks just another step on Adam McQuaid’s eventual return to game action, but it was a big one getting back on the ice with his Bruins teammates on Monday for his first practice since breaking his right fibula on Oct. 19. 

The 31-year-old McQuaid has missed 21 games and counting since blocking a pair of shots in a win over Vancouver that ultimately snapped his right leg. It’s been a long road of rehab and working his way back after a fairly significant surgery, but the light is present at the end of the tunnel now for the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman.

However, it looks like there will be a healthy amount of practice time involved before McQuaid has sufficiently knocked the rust off for game action after missing the last seven weeks. 

“He’s still got a ways to go, so I don’t want to even speculate [on a return date],” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll start to sort the pieces together when he’s truly ready to play, but it’s nice to have him around. He’s a great guy and his teammates all love him.”

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Clearly McQuaid has suffered his share of injuries over the years while playing a fearless style of blocking shots, throwing hits and defending his teammates at all costs. Just don’t expect him to change the way he plays after suffering a major injury in that particular line of duty because McQuaid knows exactly what his job description is on the ice. 

“Obviously today was a good step. It was good to be out there with the guys, and hopefully things continue to progress,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 rating in six games this season. “It’s tough. Without sugarcoating it, it was [a tough injury]. But you can’t change the situation. You try to persevere through and be better for it, so hopefully that will be the case with this. I felt good coming into the season, so it was disappointing in that way. But I’m looking to work back to that level now.

“I’ve said to some people that I can choose between getting hurt once in a while and missing some time, or playing a different style and probably not playing at all. I don’t foresee anything changing with me in that way. When you get out there, you just play and get into that mindset where you can’t think about injuries. 

It’s going to be a challenge for Bruins head coach Cassidy to work McQuaid back into the lineup when he is ready to play given the six-man defense corps that’s functioning well these days with rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup. Still McQuaid is bullishly strong, a Stanley Cup champ and as good of a teammate as you’ll find when it comes to defending everybody else in a Bruins uniform, so it won’t be too long before he finds his way back into the lineup.  

Cassidy appreciates all of those things in McQuaid’s game since their early days together with the Providence Bruins, and bristles at the notion of his injuries being looked at as a liability in any way. McQuaid has missed an average of 18 games per season over his seven full seasons with the Bruins, but Cassidy sees it as more of a hazard of the particular role he fills on the back end. Not everybody can do what McQuaid does, but it’s absolutely needed on any hockey club that’s going to be successful in the regular season and playoffs. 

“He plays hard every night and he’s a guy that blocks more shots than anybody,” said Cassidy. “Yes, he missed the last seven weeks because he blocked two shots in the same sequence. He puts himself in harm’s way and he’s suffered some injuries because of it. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to get into labels…I love the guy. 

“The game needs players like him, and the team needs him if you want to be hard to play against. Guys like that are necessary…I’ve heard that [injury-prone] description and I think it’s unfair because [McQuaid] lays it on the line every night.” 

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with both Ryan Spooner (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) practicing and uncertain if they can play Wednesday night in Detroit: 

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Beleskey-Spooner-Vatrano

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma-McQuaid

 

Rask

Khudobin

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Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

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Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while avoiding all “The Last Jedi” spoilers out there. 

 

*Brock Boeser continues to score and play well for the Vancouver Canucks despite the extra attention as one of the NHL’s lead rookie players this season. I hate to say it, but this is another one of those players from the second half of the first round in the 2015 NHL Draft. I’ll leave it at that and move on. 

 

*Alex Burrows fined $5000 for an incident in San Jose, but at least he didn’t bite anybody this time around, right? 

 

*It must be a slow week if there’s a big think piece about the ritual of using smelling salts right before the drop of the puck in NHL games. 

 

*There is more speculation about the Ottawa Senators trading Erik Karlsson than ever before in his NHL career, but his thoughts haven’t changed about wanting to win in Ottawa. 

 

*Good for the Bruins going out and donating some Christmas trees this weekend to the families of service members and veterans in Leominster. 

 

*It’s been a whopping 44 games since Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has scored a goal, and that’s an almost unthinkable drought considering how much he handles the puck. 

 

*For something completely different: Wonder Woman is getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, and it’s difficult to understand why.