Bruins still taking it 'game-by-game' with goalies

Bruins still taking it 'game-by-game' with goalies

BOSTON – Clearly, Anton Khudobin didn’t stand on his head on Friday afternoon while letting up three goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But the Bruins backup goalie did enough to win his fourth game in a row between the pipes. He made a big-time stop on Phil Kessel with 7.5 seconds left from the edge of the left face-off circle with Patric Hornqvist bearing down on him right in front of the net. It was one of his 17 saves in the 4-3 win that improved Khudobin to 7-0-2 on the season with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.


The performance was an interesting one for the Bruins backup because it was clearly still solid without even a single softie among the three goals allowed, but not so dominant that the B's would feel compelled to play Khudobin again if they wanted to work Tuukka Rask back in against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday afternoon.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has a couple of days to make the decision and said the B’s are still very much going game-by-game with the goaltending choice between Khudobin and Rask.

“We’re going to go game-to-game. It’s not going to be...well, we’re playing Dobby [Khudobin] until he loses, you know, we talked about this. Personally, I thought to put Tuukka [Rask] in [on Friday] after no practice, he hasn’t had a lot of live action, would have been a disservice to him as well with an afternoon game,” said Cassidy. “Maybe if it was a night game, you know, he gets some feel in the morning. So Dobby was probably going to go either way because he’s played more lately.

“Now we’ll reassess. Again, I know it sounds like we’re kicking it down the curb, but that’s what we are doing to be honest with you because we don’t announce our goalie on Friday for Sunday. That’s what we’re looking at but that’s the thought process as well.”

Clearly, Khudobin is enjoying the run he’s having and seeing his name up near the top of the NHL save percentage leaderboard along with Sergei Bobrovsky and Corey Crawford. But he also understands that this isn’t an easy stretch for Rask sitting back and watching as the team keeps on winning and performing at its highest level all season. Rask hasn’t completely lost his starting job because the Bruins are still intent on getting their No. 1 back on track, but it’s the first time post-Tim Thomas that Rask has sat for four games in a row.

That’s a pretty significant development in the grand scheme of things with the B’s goaltending situation.

“It’s never easy," Khudobin said. "It’s never easy and we are partners and I wish him really, really well ahead of us in games. He’s going to get in games – I don’t know when – but I hope he’s going to get in a rhythm too, because we both do the same job. My job is the same, and if I’m going out there then I try to play and try to get the win. If he’s going to go there, then [it’s the] same thing. I wish him good luck in everything. So, there’s nothing changed about that.

“I think for every goalie, when you’re playing more and more and more, you always get in a rhythm, you feel the puck better, you kind of, you see the puck better, and of course, for me personally it’s easier. I mean, it’s not really easy to play in this league, but when you’re in the rhythm, then it’s easier for me.”

The million dollar question is when, or if, Rask is going to get into that same rhythm that’s leading the way for Khudobin, and when he’s going to get that chance again after struggling through the first few months of the season. 

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.