Patriots

Khudobin ready to go when called upon

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Khudobin ready to go when called upon

BOSTON -- Anton Khudobin had dinner with Evgeni Malkin last night with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town. The Bruins' new goalie might have hoped Tuesday nights tilt with the Pens would have been his first time facing his former World Junior teammate.

Instead Khudobin will dress and back up 36-year-old Marty Turco against the Penguins at TD Garden. But the Kazakhstan natives mere presence in Boston indicates that the Bruins are slipping into sleep mode with three games remaining in the season.

The former Minnesota Wild netminder has spent the entire season in Providence, and is happy to be up with the Bruins after slogging through the AHL season with hopes of making it to Boston in time for the playoffs.

It was expected Khudobin might get at least one of the last three starts in the regular season given that Turco wont be eligible for the playoffs in Boston, but instead Turco gets the nod against Pittsburgh. The good-natured Khudobin will wait his turn and hope that it comes against Ottawa or Buffalo.

Lets finish this game tonight and see what happens next, said Khudobin. Everything is good with my wrist. Everybody is good and Im ready to go. Malkin was my roommate at the World Junior championships in Vancouver, so maybe someday I get a chance to play against him. Ive never played against him.

Tim Thomas wont even dress for Tuesday nights game as he gets some much needed rest and relaxation after playing in 16 straight games through February and March. Claude Julien said theyre not shutting Tim Thomas down for the rest of the regular season, just resting him before the playoffs.

"We want to keep our game moving in the right direction," Julien said. "We have an opportunity to mix up our lineup a little bit and give some guys some rest. But at the same time we need the guys playing to be at their best.

The will has to be there for everybody, though. That cant take a break. Its a well-deserved rest for a lot of those guys. Weve had to overtax certain players because of injuries and certain situations. So hopefully we can give some of those guys a bit of a break.

The 25-year-old Khudobin could play a fairly important role for the Bruins given the questions surrounding the groinabdomen strain suffered by Tuukka Rask. His potential readiness as a backup to Tim Thomas will be important once the postseason opens for Boston on April 12.

We need to see where Tuukka is. If Tuukka isnt ready to come back then Anton needs to be ready, said Julien. Marty cant play in the playoffs. Its clear to us and its clear to him. Tuukka is making good progress, but where well be in a week-and-a-half I really dont know.

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

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Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

DETROIT = Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game, 30-23 over the Lions in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit. Click here to read more. 

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

The Patriots hit Thanksgiving with an 8-2 record, a stranglehold on first place in the AFC East, and a rest-of-the-season schedule -- save for the much-anticipated meeting with the Steelers on Dec. 17 -- almost bereft of quality opponents. So they have a lot to be thankful for.

But here are some things you may not be aware of . . . 

SURGICAL-GRADE DIPPED LATEX TUBING

Whoever came up with the stuff Tom Brady's resistance bands are made out of -- it's actually "surgical-grade dipped latex tubing sheathed in ballistic nylon," according to the TB12 website -- probably deserves a tip of the cap from the entire region. The 40-year-old uses the bands extensively as part of his training regimen, and he currently leads the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, quarterback rating, rating under pressure and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

SUSAN SCARNECCHIA

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was retired just a couple of years ago. He traveled. He spent time with his grandchildren. Then the Patriots called. After some time to think about it -- and after talking it over with his wife Susan -- Scarnecchia opted to come back after two years away from the game. At 69 years old, he's helped this year's unit overcome some early-season struggles, and he still seems to be on top of his game. Think the Patriots are happy he had his wife's blessing to jump back in? 

ELECTRONIC TABLETS

You weren't expecting this, were you? Bill Belichick has said he's not a fan . . . but that's on game days. "I’m done with the tablets," he said last year. "I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me." But when it comes to players using tablets on their own time? They're incredibly useful. Whereas years ago players would have to come into the facility early or stay late in order to watch extra film, now they can study from the comfort of their own homes, on a team flight, or while riding in a car (as long as they aren't driving). For teams that have players who want to be over-prepared, having access to all-22 video at any time can be an advantage. 

DR. ROBERT WATKINS

Who's this, you ask? He's the Los Angeles-based back specialist who operated on Rob Gronkowski's back last year. He operated on the big tight end in 2009 and 2013, and his latest procedure seems to be holding up as well as possible. Gronkowski quickly regained his strength and athleticism, and he continues to be his team's most dynamic offensive weapon. He has 41 catches for 619 yards and five scores this season, and he's been used extensively as a blocker in the running game and in pass protection. Gronkowski deserves credit -- as does the Patriots medical, training and nutrition staffs -- for being so effective in his return to the field, but the Patriots are probably thankful that last year's back surgery went as well as it did.  

FLOWERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Trey Flowers has been arguably his team's most dependable defender this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been on the field for 606 snaps, which is fourth among edge defenders. His 338 pass-rush snaps are second among 4-3 defensive ends, per PFF. He's played through injury at times, and he's remained productive. Against the Raiders he had three quarterback hits and three hurries. So why would the Patriots be thankful for Flowers Construction Co.? That's the Huntsville, Alabama company run by Flowers' father, Robert, who put Trey to work when he was growing up. The work ethic he learned on-site has helped him go from a fourth-round pick who lost most of his rookie season to injury into a playing-time iron man and one of the team's most reliable defenders.

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