Khudobin strong in winning effort for Bruins

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Khudobin strong in winning effort for Bruins

RALEIGH, NC As far as season debuts go, it was a performance worthy of Kazakhstans No. 1 goaltender.

Anton Khudobin didnt soar off to the best of starts when he was slapped with a delay of game penalty for stepping outside the trapezoid to play a loose puck 90 seconds into the game.

After that Khudobin did everything in his power as a puck-stopper to support the Bruins in a position to win.

The 26-year-old netminder didnt let in a single bad goal in the Bruins 5-3 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena, and executed all the saves in the first two periods when the Carolina skaters were exerting heavy pressure in the Boston zone. Each of the three goals allowed came after a defensive breakdown in front of him or a careless turnover that led to immediate offensive chances.

In either instance it was the skaters in front of him that shouldered the blame for goals scored by Jamie McBain, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal. Khudobin said he felt completely comfortable after a few flurries early in the seesaw game. In the end it helped him make 29 saves on the evening and ensure that the Bruins goaltending tandem is off to a very impressive beginning.

I felt comfortable after getting a couple of the shots there in the first period. Then you get into a mindset where you stop one, and then you stop the next one, said Khudobin. Its always good. It was a good win and its always good to win.

Its always about the W first and then the stats after that. Of course stats are always good too to help you move on, but Im just happy to get the win.

Khudobins best save probably came in the first period when Jiri Tlusty found a cutting Jamie McBain on a backdoor play during one of Carolinas five power plays. But the Bs goaltender pushed from post-to-post while squaring up for a shot that ultimately caught him in the chest.

That was a pretty good shot, said Khudobin. But making that save gives you confidence and gives your teammates confidence.

He snagged a long Eric Staal shot from the high point with a confident glove in the second period, and backstopped a Bruins penalty kill that went a perfect five-for-five on the evening. Claude Julien lauded the work of the young goaltender in only his second career appearance with the Bruins, which was all the more impressive after sitting and watching Tuukka Rask over the first nine days of the season.

Dobbie made some good saves, but we also had some very good penalty kill work, said Claude Julie. He was poised. I thought he did a great job. For me hes a guy that you watch in practice and you watch in the games, and hes two different guys. He was like that last year. Some guys are like that: game goaltenders rather than practice goaltenders.

He seemed focused and ready this morning. He was excited about playing, and they knew it was his first start so they were throwing everything at him. But he faced the shots and did a great job.

Most impressive of all: Khudobin is now 6-1 in eight career NHL appearances with a goals against average hovering around 1.25 and a .962 save percentage that scream out NHL-caliber goalie.

Its only been one game, but it looks like the Bruins are going to be in good hands for the 15-18 games the No. 1 goaltender of Kazakhstan will play for the Black and Gold in a season where backup goaltenders could play an extremely vital role.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.