Bruins

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins featured prominently on NBC national schedule

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File Photo

Bruins featured prominently on NBC national schedule

The Boston Bruins are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, so they won’t be any strangers to the national television audience in the upcoming NHL season.

The Bruins are set to be on NBC or NBCSN 14 times in nationally televised games during the 2018-19 season including the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame, and their Oct. 3 season opener against the reigning Cup champion Washington Capitals in DC. The 14 games are tied with the New York Rangers for the fifth-most in the NHL behind only the Blackhawks, Capitals, Flyers and Penguins.

The B’s season opener vs. the Caps will actually kick off NBC’s NHL coverage for the regular season, which is set to include a whopping 109 televised games.

MORE BRUINS

Other highlights from the NBC Networks broadcast schedule include a home game against the Atlantic Division rival Montreal Canadiens on Monday, January 14, a road game against the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, February 20, and a home tilt on Thursday Feb. 28 against the Tampa Bay Lightning team that eliminated them in the playoffs.

Here’s the rest of the national television 2018-19 schedule for the Black and Gold that certainly has some games to circle on the ole hockey calendar:  

Bruins Games Broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network (all times Eastern):

Wednesday, October 3: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, October 17: Boston Bruins at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, January 1: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic), 1 p.m., NBC

Monday, January 14: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, January 16: Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, February 3: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 12:30 p.m., NBC

Wednesday, February 6: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, February 12: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m., NBCSN

Monday, February 18: Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 10 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, February 20: Boston Bruins at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m., NBCSN

Thursday, February 28: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 10: Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, March 27: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 31: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Mikita's legacy extends beyond the ice

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Morning Skate: Mikita's legacy extends beyond the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the fog officially rolled in this morning.  

*NBC Sports announced their 109-game schedule for the NHL season, and it all starts with the Bruins season opener on Oct. 3 against the Washington Capitals. The Wednesday Night Rivalry games will be done away with and in its place Wednesday Night Hockey is going to feature a more diverse collection of teams and locations featuring non-traditional markets. It’s a great idea and completely called for given the emergence of teams like the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers on the lasting legacy of the recently passed Chicago Blackhawks great Stan Mikita when it comes to his work in the community.

*Dylan Larkin got a pretty good deal from the Detroit Red Wings that was deserved given his youth and his production to this point. So why on Earth are we writing 1,000 word think pieces on this? Yeah, I don’t know either.

*Speaking of the Red Wings, it sounds like Henrik Zetterberg may be a giant question mark for this upcoming NHL season based on his health. While it’s a big blog to the Red Wings competitiveness for next season, it might be the best thing for a team that’s still nowhere near competing for a Stanley Cup at this point.

*Three big questions facing the Edmonton Oilers as they ready for a massive season that will undoubtedly have jobs on the line based on an expected return to the playoffs.

*For something completely different: Well, this is one way to discourage cruise ships from going by your coastal home.