Khudobin mulls move to KHL when Bruins contract ends

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Khudobin mulls move to KHL when Bruins contract ends

David Krejci, Anton Khudobin and Dougie Hamilton were the only three Bruins players still missing from the Bruins contingent skating at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday morning. Krejci is headed back from the Czech Republic and theres no reason to think the playmaking center wont be back in Black and Gold by Sundays start to training camp at the very latest.

Since theres a very formal process to a junior hockey player joining an NHL camp, its expected that the 19-year-old Hamilton wont be here until camp officially opens on Jan. 13. The 2011 first round pick will be given every chance to make the Bruins roster, and barring any unforeseen struggles should be in the opening night lineup.

Khudobin is in the same boat as Krejci: the Kazakhstan native is returning from the Moscow Oblast Atlant team hed been playing with in the KHL for the duration of the lockout. But theres one twist with the 26-year-old Khudobin: hes already begun making noise in his native country that he might prefer to remain in the KHL long term.

The Bruins are expecting him for training camp this weekend just like everybody else, and he impressed in a 44-save shutout against the Ottawa Senators at the end of last year's regular season. But Khudobin told a Russian media outlet, RSport, that he might prefer playing in Russia to the North American NHL game.

I can say that these three months have been simply excellent," said Khudobin, who was 6-14-4 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.96 goals against average in the KHL this season. In the summer my contract with Boston finishes, and the choice of which league to play is going to be a serious dilemma.

I could definitely turn up in the KHL, why not? Here you get really good hockey, it's a really decent league. The KHL is taking confident steps forward, and that's something that's really pleasing."

It was stated within that report that Khudobin was contractually obligated to head for Boston as soon as the NHL lockout was over, so he should be turning up at Ristuccia Arena for practice any day now. But the confusion with Russian players like Ilya Kovalchuk skating in the KHL over the last few days means nothing should taken for granted until the player has officially reported to camp.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.