Bruins

Ritchie, Manson lead Ducks past slumping Bruins, 4-2

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Ritchie, Manson lead Ducks past slumping Bruins, 4-2

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kevin Roy and Josh Manson played their college hockey in Boston at Northeastern, and the Anaheim Ducks' two Huskies couldn't deny an extra jump in their stride when they got the chance to hurt the Bruins with big goals.

Nick Ritchie and Manson had a goal and an assist apiece, and Roy scored his first NHL goal in the Ducks' 4-2 victory over slumping Boston on Wednesday night.

Roy played four seasons at Northeastern before turning pro last year. He opened the scoring with his first goal in his third NHL game, slipping into the slot and swatting in a loose puck.

Before the game, Manson said he predicted Roy would get his big goal against the Bruins.

"Playing Boston, I knew he would bring his A game," Manson said. "It was awesome. I couldn't be more happy for him. He's worked really hard. I've seen the progress through college. He's a goal scorer. It's the first of many."

Roy acknowledged "a little extra motivation" in facing the Bruins. He triumphantly displayed the puck for a team photographer in the dressing room afterward.

"I didn't see it (go in)," Roy said. "I just heard the noise and saw the players around me. It just felt awesome. It's a moment you dream of. Getting the first one is pretty special."

John Gibson made 39 saves and Antoine Vermette had an assist in his 1,000th NHL appearance as the Ducks won for just the second time in seven games. Derek Grant also scored in Anaheim's eighth consecutive win over the Bruins.

Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari scored and Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots for the Bruins, who opened their California road swing with their fourth consecutive loss. Boston had defensive breakdowns, but also couldn't seem to catch a fortunate bounce at Honda Center.

"They were all kind of broken plays, deflections, so they're all frustrating," Rask said. "We played a decent second period, and we still got down."

Anaheim had only three shots on goal in the second, but scored twice while taking control of just its fifth win in 12 home games.

Several minutes after Heinen tied it midway through the period with a nifty backhand for his third career goal, Manson alertly flung the puck toward Boston's crease while skating into the corner. The puck ricocheted off Zdeno Chara's skate for Manson's first goal since March 26.

Ritchie then scored his first goal since Oct. 24, tipping home a pass from Vermette shortly before intermission. The power forward had his first multi-point performance since March 28.

Major early-season injury problems have reduced Anaheim and Boston to patchwork replicas of their once-impressive rosters. The remaining Ducks are handling those absences better lately than the Bruins, who have scored more than two goals only twice in their last 10 games.

"I'm not going to use that as an excuse," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We've got some young players up front, we know that, but at the back end and our goaltending, there is experience there."

The Bruins played without key forwards Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, who both stayed home in Boston with undisclosed injuries. They've been ruled out for Thursday's game in Los Angeles as well.

David Krejci missed his 11th straight game for Boston, but could be close to returning soon. David BackesRyan Spooner and Adam McQuaid also are out with long-term injuries.

The Ducks scratched defenseman Hampus Lindholm with a lower-body injury. Anaheim is still without captain Ryan Getzlaf, center Ryan Kesler, defenseman Cam Fowler, goal-scoring forward Patrick Eaves and goalie Ryan Miller.

NOTES: Boston played a penalty-free game, and Anaheim didn't commit a penalty until 9:08 remained. ... Vermette is the 17th active skater to reach 1,000 games. ... Bruins forward Matt Beleskey remained scoreless in 13 games this season. The Ducks product signed a $19.8 million, five-year deal with Boston as a free agent in 2015, but has been unable to recapture his goal-scoring form from his final year in Anaheim, when he got 22 regular-season goals and eight more in the playoffs. ... Anaheim dressed seven defensemen against Boston, but Korbinian Holzer played right wing on the fourth line.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Ducks: Host the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

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Morning Skate: Kovalchuk thinks there's still plenty left in the tank

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Morning Skate: Kovalchuk thinks there's still plenty left in the tank

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while heading into late July where nothing at all happens in the hockey world. 
 
-- Ilya Kovalchuk thinks he’s still got some prime NHL years ahead as he readies for his return with the Los Angeles Kings. Maybe so, but would he ever admit he thinks he’s lost a step and won’t be a game-breaker in his late 30s?

 -- Larry Brooks says history shows the Rangers have picked the wrong man for their enforcer role in Cody MacLeod. 
 
-- A couple of pieces memorializing retired NHL goalie Ray Emery, who tragically lost his life at age 35 in a drowning accident last weekend. He was one of the toughest goaltenders in the history of the NHL.  
 
-- Pro Hockey Talk asks what the right contract extension is going to be for Washington Capitals rabble-rouser Tom Wilson. 
 
-- A nearly 20-minute video of NHL players mic’d up during the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is always high entertainment. 
 
-- For something completely different: This teaser for Stranger Things season 3 shows it was inevitable they were going to the mall
 

Haggerty: With Jaroslav Halak in place, dealing Tuukka Rask shouldn't be out of the question

Haggerty: With Jaroslav Halak in place, dealing Tuukka Rask shouldn't be out of the question

There are a couple of inalienable facts about next year’s goaltending situation with the Boston Bruins.

The first is that the B’s have most definitely upgraded in that area with 33-year-old Jaroslav Halak as the backup to Tuukka Rask. Halak is a flat-out better goalie than Anton Khudobin, and should be a little more consistent than the Russian backup, who was admittedly excellent last season while racking up a 16-6-7 record as Tuukka Rask’s understudy.

Halak, on the other hand, has won less than 18 games in a season only twice in his 10 full seasons at the NHL level, and has been a starter with the Canadiens, Blues, Capitals and Islanders with a career .916 save percentage over his NHL career. In case anybody hadn’t noticed that’s also been Tuukka Rask’s save percentage over the last three seasons for the Bruins.

Which brings us to inalienable goaltending fact No. 2: Halak is going to push Rask like he hasn’t been challenged since truly taking over as the top goalie in Boston.

The last truly competitive situation with Rask between the B’s pipes was in 2011-12 in Tim Thomas’ last season with the Bruins when the Finnish goaltender was backing up a reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Rask had temporarily taken Thomas’ job away from him two years prior during the 2009-10 season when he was a rookie goalie, and that sparked the best season of Thomas’ NHL career where he led the Black and Gold to a Stanley Cup victory.

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Since then Rask has had “just another guys” like Chad Johnson, Niklas Svedberg, Jonas Gustavsson and Anton Khudobin backing him up, and none of those backups had the kind of juice to truly take Rask’s job away from him. The best Khudobin could do was start four straight games for the Bruins back in November of last season, and that turned out to be one of the turning points in a 112-point campaign where Rask was significantly motivated from that point onward.

Halak could legitimately get on a hot streak in the regular season and force the Bruins coaching staff to sit Rask for weeks, or even a month, at a time, and that’s something no backup has ever been able to do behind Boston’s Franchise Finn. That should be a good thing and that is something the B’s are already counting on to happen for next season.

“We’ve talked about internal competition. Maybe it puts Tuukka in a better mindset. There were nights when Tuukka [played] back-to-backs. That’s a lot of stress on the goaltender knowing… I think two years ago we didn’t have a win by our backup at Christmas time,” said Don Sweeney, on July 1 after signing Halak to a two-year contract. “I’m not sure you guys wrote about it, but I did, and I lost sleep about it.

“I think we have two guys that have carried the ball for their teams, [and] that will push each other, that will complement each other, and we feel good that now going in every night. That is an area we aren’t going to be concerned about, hopefully. Obviously, it’s [about] the performance now.”

Now here’s the fork in the road where the inalienable Bruins goaltending facts and some good, old-fashioned speculation go their separate ways.

It doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen, but the addition of Halak for multiple years also opens up the possibility of trading away Rask if the right deal comes across Sweeney’s desk. The $2.75 million per season that the Bruins are paying Halak is the going rate for a top-of-the-line goalie, but it now also means the B’s are paying just under $10 million per season over the next two years for their goaltending tandem. That’s a whopping 12.5 percent of the $79.5 million in salary cap space, which is much less than either of the teams in this spring’s Stanley Cup Final (Vegas paid $6.4 million for their goalies and Washington paid $7.6 million for the Braden Holtby/Philipp Grubauer combo) shelled out for their goaltending.

In fact, only Montreal is spending more money on goaltending than the Bruins this season thanks to the awful Carey Price contract, and – along with the Bruins -- only the Panthers, Canadiens and Avalanche are paying north of $9 million in cap space for their goalies next season. For a Bruins team that was just barely in the NHL’s top-10 in save percentage and where the goaltending wasn’t really a demonstrable strength in the playoffs, that feels like a lot.  

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Rask has a limited trade clause for this upcoming season where he can be traded to eight NHL teams, and that “can be traded to” list gets bumped up to 15 teams in the following season. The Bruins did everything possible last season to make sure that Rask was mentally and physically rested with the 54 appearances, which was right around the targeted 55-60 games the Bruins had him penciled in for at the start of last season.

But even after all that rest and being given the high maintenance treatment, Rask still responded with a shaky postseason that was the worst statistically of his career. The 2.88 goals against average and .903 save percentage were the worst playoff marks of his NHL career, and Rask was an absolute disaster in their Game 7 showdown with the Maple Leafs. If the Bruins hadn’t completely shut down Toronto in the first half of the third period where they didn’t allow a shot on net (and didn’t allow Rask to even be a factor in the balance of that game), they probably wouldn’t have even advanced beyond the first round prior to their second round smack-down at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Rask was better in the second round vs. Tampa and added to his career highlight reel when he angrily fired a broken skate blade at the boards, but there are still some of the very same, nagging questions about Boston’s top goalie when it comes to big games.   

So why not start to explore what Rask could yield in a hockey trade, and even pull the trigger if the price is right given that Halak is there as a proven starting goaltender? There has been plenty of talk about Torey Krug being on the move if the right trade comes up to fit Boston’s needs, and there’s no reason why Boston’s All-Star, $7 million a year goaltender shouldn’t be part of that roster improvement conversation as well.

Nobody is saying to ship Rask simply for the sake of doing it, and clearly the Bruins would need to find themselves a young goalie they could groom as the eventual No. 1 guy to go along with the older, declining Halak. But the signing of Halak officially opened the door for the Bruins to at least toy with the idea of moving Rask in a good hockey trade to a team desperate for goaltending help (Carolina, the Islanders and the Flyers immediately come to mind), and that might not be such a bad thing for the Black and Gold.  

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