Bruins

Svedberg signs in KHL; Subban ready for backup role?

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Svedberg signs in KHL; Subban ready for backup role?

The Bruins are looking at some roster changes headed into the offseason, and backup goaltender is one of the spots where there will be some turnover.

That’s because last season’s backup netminder, Niklas Svedberg, has signed a one-year deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa to play in the KHL next season, and gain some experience as a starting goaltender rather than a backup in the NHL. The 25-year-old Swedish netminder played in 18 games for the Bruins in his first full NHL season backing up Tuukka Rask, but started only five games for the Black and Gold after January 1 as he seemed to lose confidence with sporadic playing time.

The final numbers were pretty good for Svedberg, with a 7-5-1, with a 2.33 GAA and a .918 save percentage in those 18 appearances, but Roy said his client wants to return to the NHL as starting material rather than the backup band.

“He signed for one year. The ultimate goal is to go back to the NHL and be a starter,” said Svedberg's agent Allain Roy. “It was just going to be tough in Boston with Tuukka playing all the games. It was hard to get games there. He just figured going to Russia and playing 50 games this season [was better for him], and let’s face it: the money in the KHL is better than getting backup money in the NHL.”

“So he’ll just do [the KHL] for a year, come back and hopefully be a starter somewhere. He’s been a starter for the last five-plus years and been kind of the “go to” guy. Even in the American League he played a lot of games there too. But you can’t blame the Bruins. They’ve got a great goalie there in Tuukka, and he obviously likes to play.”

Svedberg will be free to sign with any NHL team when he does return after his stint in Russia as he qualifies as an unrestricted Group 6 free agent based on his age, his pro hockey experience and having played less than 28 NHL games in his career.
 
With Svedberg out of the picture for the Bruins, it would seem almost automatic that the B's will go out and get a cheap, veteran backup netminder capable of handling the job behind a workhorse like Rask. Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith are the two in-house candidates that finished up the year in Providence, and the 21-year-old Subban made some strides in his second full pro season.

But P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy ended the AHL season with the sense that Subban still had development left in his goaltending game before he was ready for Boston, and his one disastrous NHL outing vs. St. Louis mid-season seemed to confirm that.  

“It always depends on who they’re pushing, and who is there on the [NHL] roster. I don’t think anybody knows. But is Subban ready to push for the backup job?" asked Cassidy rhetorically. "I think that would entirely depend on his training camp. He had a good year and he got better, but there are still a few things that he’s got to address."

Bruins hope Tuukka Rask concussion 'settles itself quickly' after nasty hit

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Bruins hope Tuukka Rask concussion 'settles itself quickly' after nasty hit

BOSTON – Things turned quickly for Tuukka Rask in Saturday’s loss to the New York Rangers where it went from going for a historic win to not even being able to get out of the first period in one piece. Rask was knocked out of Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers with a concussion after getting crushed by Rangers winger Filip Chytil on a power rush to the net that resulted in New York’s first goal.

Chytil was headed to the net with a head of steam, and went airborne when shoved by Charlie McAvoy in what ended with a violent collision at the net. Rask was spaghetti-legged as he left the ice with a concussion and Jaroslav Halak absorbed his fourth loss in his last five appearances while allowing two goals on 13 shots.

Now the Bruins are hoping that more than a week of rest time – thanks to the bye week and NHL All-Star weekend – will be enough to find Rask healthy and ready to resume his duties when the regular season resumes.

“He’s concussed. That’s all I know, so he’ll go into protocol. The best-case scenario for those is usually the next day if he’s doing well,” said Bruce Cassidy of Rask, who went into Saturday night with a 2.43 goals against average and a .920 save percentage while playing some of his best hockey of the season. “Then he’s up and running and it shouldn’t be too badly affected by it other than the immediate, today’s kind of pain and symptoms. If he’s not, then it’s one of those where you just keep your fingers crossed and hope it settles itself out quickly.

“I don’t want this to come out of context, but the timing is probably the best it’s ever going to be, right? If you’re going to have this injury because you do have nine days before you play again, so for any player. But there is no good timing, having said that, because who knows how it’ll play out for him. So it’s unfortunate.”

Cassidy was also quick to point that he didn’t think the collision was intentional on the part of Chytil, who definitely appeared to lose his balance once he made contact with McAvoy while going full speed at the Bruins net.

“I don’t think there’s intent to hit the goalie. I think that’s rare. There’s probably a player or two that tries not to get out of the way, for sure. I don’t think this kid tried to hit him. I think he did hit him. How much Charlie [McAvoy] affected that? The reaction is did the goal go in because he hit him or the puck went in first clearly, so it’s a good goal? I thought there are nights where it would’ve been called goalie interference after the goal and we would’ve been on the power play, not that tonight would’ve been the best night for that,” said Cassidy. “At the end of day, I’ve seen that call. He didn’t make it. He felt Charlie had something to do with the contact, and you move on.”

It’s the second documented concussion for Rask after he suffered one in Bruins practice a couple of years ago when Anders Bjork ran over him during a particularly lively practice drill, and ended up missing more than a week of action in his recovery. 

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Talking Points from the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Rangers

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Talking Points from the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Rangers

Talking points from the B's loss to the Rangers. . .

GOLD STAR: Mika Zibanejad certainly wasn’t a dominant figure in the shots created department and he was only 11-for-30 in the face-off circle while getting his lunch handed to him on the draw for the most part. But he made the plays for the Rangers when it mattered scoring two of the three goals scored by the Rangers with the first one as a tipped shot camped in front of the net, and then he scored the game-winner on the power play midway through the third period as well. He topped 20 minutes of ice time, created four shot attempts, had three takeaways and made the plays when it mattered for the Blueshirts. There weren’t enough guys that did that in Black and Gold on Saturday night.

BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask was done for the night in the first period after making just six saves, and it was due to a painful chain of events. Filip Chytil drove hard to the net, got shoved by Charlie McAvoy on the way there and somehow went airborne with his elbow catching Rask on the jaw in as violent of a collision as you’ll see at the net. Rask was helped off the ice by teammates and medical staff, and was diagnosed with a concussion a short time afterward with no chance to return to the game. It’s a good thing Rask has the bye week and All-Star weekend to rest and recover, but it remains to be seen if he’s going to be okay when the action resumes after that. That’s really unfortunate given how well Rask had been playing going into Saturday night.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a four-minute power play in the first period after Ryan Lindgren caught David Krejci with a high stick, and they did absolutely nothing with it. There was zero urgency, there was almost no real setup of the PP formation in the offensive zone and hence there were as many shorthanded rushes for the Rangers as there were shots on net for the Bruins. It was a horrible way for the Bruins to start the game from a momentum perspective, and it showed a group that seemed to have their minds on their bye week plans rather than the job at hand. As it turns out that’s really how the entire game ended up playing out.

HONORABLE MENTION: Danton Heinen had one of his best games of the season as he scored the first goal of the game, and was active winning battles and getting involved in the offensive zone. He finished with three shots on net in 12:27 of ice time, and he didn’t hesitate when Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson slid a pass back to him in the face-off circle as he crashed down to the net for a one-timer. It’s that kind of assertiveness and willingness to get involved without hesitating that hasn’t been present enough in Heinen’s game this season with just two points in January headed into Saturday night. But he scored his sixth goal of the season in Saturday’s loss and the hope has got to be that he can turn that into momentum in the final few months of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: Minus-7 – The combined plus/minus of Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on Saturday night, which usually spells doom for the Bruins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Are we playing down to the level of competition or are we going to play to our standard? I think that the message from us as a coaching staff over the last two, three years is we need to play to our standard. So, I guess that’s the message we have to get back to and start measuring ourselves against our best selves, so to speak.” –Bruce Cassidy, on some recent losses to teams below the Bruins in the standings.   

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