Khudobin wants to finish season strong with the Bruins

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Khudobin wants to finish season strong with the Bruins

Anton Khudobin didnt want to talk about his plans for next season and beyond. Perhaps that is partially due to some of the statements hes made to Russian media outlets that he enjoyed the KHL so much that hell be returning to play there after the current 2013 NHL season.

But just as likely is this: the 26-year-old Khudobin is simply intent on keeping things focused on his first real chance to establish himself as an NHL-caliber goaltender. He bounced up and down from the AHL to the NHL when he was traveling through the Minnesota Wild organization, and he announced his Boston presence with authority last spring when he posted a 44-save shutout against the Senators in Ottawa.

But his entire body of NHL work consists of nine games, and Khudobin will easily double that output while splitting time with Tuukka Rask this season.

Its going to be like every goalie is going to try to be better than the other goalie. Im going to push him and hes going to push me, said Khudobin, who was 6-14-4 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.96 goals against average for Moscow Oblast Atlant in the KHL this season. Its a different style of hockey in the KHL in terms of games and practices.

Right now Im focused on finishing the season here and ending on a good note. After that we shall see.

Khudobin said he never considered simply staying in the KHL this season once the lockout was over, but there was no denial that might be the plan for next year and beyond. With young goaltenders in Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban fortifying their organizational depth between the pipes, the Bruins should have a ready answer for next season no matter what happens with Rask or Khudobin this time around.

But either Rask or Khudobin could step up and make a major statement about their budding NHL career stopping pucks, and will have approximately four months of hockey to do just that.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.