Bruins

Marchand praises Bruins' ability to play through 'good adversity'

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Marchand praises Bruins' ability to play through 'good adversity'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Give the Bruins credit for the way they are hanging tough amid injuries and the expected learning-curve inconsistencies of their young players.

The Black and Gold have taken points in each of their past six games, including their past four all against teams in playoff position: the San Jose Sharks, L.A. Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights. While clearly not playing dominant hockey or even a clear-cut winning brand of pucks, it’s allowed them to remain within a couple of points of a playoff spot with the fewest games played in the Eastern Conference.

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The Bruins will have to continue doing that with a rugged November schedule ahead of them. Still, it's been so far, so good with a formula of tight-checking, productive power play and quality goaltending expected to pull them through the hard times. In the end, veteran Brad Marchand thinks they’ll be better off for learning how to survive with David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari, Adam McQuaid and Anton Khudobin all currently out of commission.

“We’ve been playing some pretty decent hockey, especially based on the guys that we’ve been missing,” said Marchand. “We’re working on different areas of our game and those areas continue to improve. As long as we continue to get points we’ll continue to grow our game and trend upward.

“It’s good adversity. You need to learn how to win in every situation. You need to learn how to win when you’re missing guys, when you’re at full health and when you’re tried from back-to-backs or whatever it is. You need to learn how to win those games because the best teams thrive throughout the year. You really can’t have excuses at the end of the year [over] whether you’re in the playoffs or not. You can’t look back and say ‘if you weren’t missing so many guys then you would’ve been in the playoffs.’ It doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”

The undermanned Bruins have welcomed the challenge of adversity by picking up points even when all seemed lost, such as falling behind 3-0 in Columbus early in the game. In the good news department, Spooner and Acciari are skating again and it appears Acciari, the former Providence College standout, will begin practicing with the team again next week.

But only 10 players on the Bruins roster have played in all 11 games just a month into the season. That means they’ve needed to get results while never once enjoying the opening-night roster that they envisioned at the start of training camp. That bodes well for this group in the short term, and long term, if they can hold on a little bit longer until good health begins swinging their away again. 
 

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.

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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. 

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