Khudobin to get first start of season vs. Hurricanes

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Khudobin to get first start of season vs. Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC The Boston Bruins will finally uncover their goalie understudy for a road game against a Carolina Hurricanes team that swept them in all four regular season match-ups last season.

No big deal for Anton Khudobin, though. The goaltender from Kazakhstan was the first Bruins goaltender off the ice at PNC Arena, meaning he will get the start against the young, hungry Canes. Tuukka Rask had started the four previous games to begin the regular season and put together a 1.96 goals against average and .925 save percentage, but the arrival of the season's first back-to-back games prompted the Bruins coaching staff to go with Khudobin.

He showed something last year in the one game he played for us against Ottawa and he had a decent year in Providence too, said Claude Julien, referencing the 44-save masterpiece against the Senators from late last season that cinched his gig as the backup goalie for this year. No matter what, you have to use both goaltenders in this short schedule.

"We have confidence in both of them and were going to rely on both of them. Ive said that from the get-go. He has an opportunity to show that tonight.

The 26-year-old puck-stopper played 24 games in the KHL, and went 6-14-4 with a .912 save percentage and 2.96 goals against average for a lowly Moscow Oblast Atlant during the lockout. So he should be ready to jump in for the Black and Gold after watching for the last couple of weeks, and get into his first game action since letting up five goals in the preseason Black and Gold scrimmage in his only game action.

Its been a long time since I played a game in the NHL, but I know what to expect pretty much, said Khudobin. It will be my first experience against Carolina, but it will be a good experience. You just have to work every day. You cant stand still. Every day you just move forward and work on something new.

It will be an important debut for Khudobin as the 10-15 games he appears in during the 48-game shortened season could really impact Bostons playoff standings. Carolina provides the setting for his first attempt at locking down a permanent NHL job with the Black and Gold.

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats