Bruins wary of goaltending 'advantage' over Capitals

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Bruins wary of goaltending 'advantage' over Capitals

WILMINGTON, MA If theres one weakness the Bruins can exploit when they take the ice against the Washington Capitals, it could be between the pipes.

Tomas Vokoun has been out with a groin injury since getting removed from the Caps victory over the Bruins on Mach 29 after aggravating the problem, and it appears he wont be ready to start the postseason. Michael Neuvirth skated on his own prior to Mondays Capitals practice while working his way back from a left legankle injury, but he isnt expected to be ready for Thursday nights Game One either.

So that leaves Washington with goaltending rookie Braden Holtby to start the playoff series.

The 22-year-old Holtby has no playoff experience, but has been excellent with the Capitals posting a 14-4-3 record with 2.02 goals against average and .929 save percentage while mixing in with Neuvirth and Vokoun. Those numbers are nice, but on paper it appears to be a mismatch next to Tim Thomas and the Bruins goaltending situation.

That tends to happen when you place a fresh-faced goaltender side-by-side with four-time All-Star goaltender with reams of experience, and both Vezina Trophies and Conn Smythe Trophies on his award shelf.

The Bs goaltender might feel that and think that in his heart of hearts, but he cautioned against getting too overconfident facing a group of Washington goaltenders clearly in flux due to injuries. Thomas referenced the Capitals goaltending situation while breaking down their team as an opponent.

Obviously they have a potent offense. They had our number this year, but that doesnt really mean anything going into the playoffs as weve seen in the past, said Tim Thomas. They have some physicality. I dont know how physical theyre going to play us in the series. That really remains to be seen. Thats their offense and thats their biggest danger.

We have to be willing to put in the work that needs to be done on our offensive side. I know that it looks like at this point theyre going to have a young goalie playing, but that doesnt mean anything. You cant take for granted. Sometimes those kids can stand on their heads in those situations for a number of reasons but one of them is that they never expected to be there so they dont have that mental pressure.

Playoff series are never won with paper matchups and lopsided strengths and weakness in postseason previews, but the Bruins have to feel good about their goaltending situation headed into a series expected to go deep into April.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

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Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

A Pierce-Doc-Garnett reunion with Clippers - if only for a day

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A Pierce-Doc-Garnett reunion with Clippers - if only for a day

Less than a week after announcing his retirement on Instagram, Kevin Garnett was back in the gym with old friends Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers.

Cue the comeback rumors? "Anything is possible!"

The tweet from the Clippers called Garnett a “special guest” at the team’s practice on Thursday. 

Rivers, the current Clippers and ex-Celtics coach, told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan last week he was willing to bring Garnett, who has a home in Malibu, to Los Angeles for one last season but KG, 40, chose to retire. So, apparently, the reunion Thursday with Doc, Pierce and Garnett was only temporary.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, a former Celtics assistant under Rivers, wants Garnett to join his staff.