Bruins

Khudobin again proving to be difference-maker for B's

Khudobin again proving to be difference-maker for B's

NEW YORK – Anton Khudobin again came to the Bruins’ rescue on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Sure. the Bruins ended kicking sand all over the 98-pound weakling New York Rangers to the tune of an eventual 6-1 score at MSG, but it was the affable backup goalie battling through the first period that helped pave the way for a blowout.

It was clear early in the game that the B’s didn’t have their legs on the second night of a back-to-back on the road and it was up to Khudobin to stop several Grade-A chances among their 11 shots on net in the first period. Sure, there was one Rick Nash snipe that managed to get by him on a turnover from Zdeno Chara, but after that Khudobin was battling, leaping and doing anything under the sun to keep the puck out of the net.

“That was a scramble. The first I tried to keep out and it went through my legs. Then I tried to find the puck, and there was another shot…a deflection. I tried to kick it out, but then I kicked it out and was like ‘uh-oh.’ There was another rebound. I just tried to get there,” said Khudobin, who finished with 21 saves in the win over the Blueshirts. “[Before the game] I’m just getting ready for as many shots as it’s going to be, and just trying to stop them all.

“It’s not easy. It’s back-to-back, it’s an 8 o’clock game and I can’t even remember the last time I played an eight o’clock game. It’s a long day and a nice building and everything, so it was pretty cool. A lot of guys come to me today and say ‘helluva game’ or whatever, but this is my job…to save the pucks. I’m happy to get wins.”

Those aforementioned best stops of the night came in succession when he poke-checked a big chance away from Mika Zibanejad, went into hyperactive mode and then recovered in time to swat away Nash’s bid for his second goal of the night. It was a blur for Khudobin and provided exactly what the Bruins needed as he’s done so many times this season all while sporting an 11-3-4 record.

One of the most clearly defined differences between this season's dominant group and last season’s playoff bubble team has been the excellence of Khudobin. Clearly, the Bruins understood just how important Khudobin was early in the game until the B’s began finding their legs in the final 40 minutes.

“The first period I thought our goaltender was terrific,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We had some breakdowns in the slot that were a little bit uncharacteristic for us, but we got through it. The one on Nash was unbelievable. It happened with Tuukka last week at home where he made a big save backdoor, we end up winning and it sometimes gets lost. But it isn’t on us. He was excellent in the first period and was there for us. He was the difference early, and he’s been good all year.”

There’s no doubting Khudobin’s importance to everything Boston is doing when you look back at the four-game winning streak in mid-November that kicked off their 27-4-4 run, and the sterling .925 save percentage he’s sporting this season. Khudobin’s strong play certainly opens the door for him to seize the backup job in Boston for much longer than just this season when his two-year contract runs out in the summer.


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.