Khudobin ready to go when called upon

721506.jpg

Khudobin ready to go when called upon

BOSTON -- Anton Khudobin had dinner with Evgeni Malkin last night with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town. The Bruins' new goalie might have hoped Tuesday nights tilt with the Pens would have been his first time facing his former World Junior teammate.

Instead Khudobin will dress and back up 36-year-old Marty Turco against the Penguins at TD Garden. But the Kazakhstan natives mere presence in Boston indicates that the Bruins are slipping into sleep mode with three games remaining in the season.

The former Minnesota Wild netminder has spent the entire season in Providence, and is happy to be up with the Bruins after slogging through the AHL season with hopes of making it to Boston in time for the playoffs.

It was expected Khudobin might get at least one of the last three starts in the regular season given that Turco wont be eligible for the playoffs in Boston, but instead Turco gets the nod against Pittsburgh. The good-natured Khudobin will wait his turn and hope that it comes against Ottawa or Buffalo.

Lets finish this game tonight and see what happens next, said Khudobin. Everything is good with my wrist. Everybody is good and Im ready to go. Malkin was my roommate at the World Junior championships in Vancouver, so maybe someday I get a chance to play against him. Ive never played against him.

Tim Thomas wont even dress for Tuesday nights game as he gets some much needed rest and relaxation after playing in 16 straight games through February and March. Claude Julien said theyre not shutting Tim Thomas down for the rest of the regular season, just resting him before the playoffs.

"We want to keep our game moving in the right direction," Julien said. "We have an opportunity to mix up our lineup a little bit and give some guys some rest. But at the same time we need the guys playing to be at their best.

The will has to be there for everybody, though. That cant take a break. Its a well-deserved rest for a lot of those guys. Weve had to overtax certain players because of injuries and certain situations. So hopefully we can give some of those guys a bit of a break.

The 25-year-old Khudobin could play a fairly important role for the Bruins given the questions surrounding the groinabdomen strain suffered by Tuukka Rask. His potential readiness as a backup to Tim Thomas will be important once the postseason opens for Boston on April 12.

We need to see where Tuukka is. If Tuukka isnt ready to come back then Anton needs to be ready, said Julien. Marty cant play in the playoffs. Its clear to us and its clear to him. Tuukka is making good progress, but where well be in a week-and-a-half I really dont know.

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.