Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

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Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

FRAMINGHAM Milan Lucic admitted he was surprised that so many of his Bruins teammates seven of them, including Tuukka Rask and Rich Peverley have already bolted for European hockey leagues. The Bs power forward hasnt made any plans for playing anywhere other than the NHL this season, and it doesnt sound like thats going to change in the near term.

You start thinking about it, admitted Lucic, who chatted with CSNNE.com after speaking to the Mary E. Stapleton Elementary School in Framingham Monday morning in an event sponsored by NMTW Community Credit Union. Im actually kind of surprised that guys are so urgent and anxious to leave so quickly given where the labor dispute is where its at. As more and more guys start to go over and more and more guys from our team start thinking about it, you start thinking about it more. Right now I dont have any plans to go, but its in the back of my mind.

Things are a little more complicated for the 24-year-old Lucic than they might be for a 20-year-old Tyler Seguin, who can literally drop everything and head over to Switzerland until the NHL lockout ends. Lucic and his new bride Brittany are expecting their first child during the upcoming season, and the Bs power forward understandably doesnt want to be across the world for that life milestone.

That all makes it more complicated especially when its your first child, said Lucic. You want to be around for all of the experiences of it. Thats basically where Im at right now. I want to be there for her more than anything.

The concern, of course, is becoming rusty as a hockey player if the NHL layoff turns into months rather than days or weeks. Lucic might be forced to leave for Europe at some point if the scrimmages and informal skates arent enough to keep in tip-top shape, but thats a long way down the road.

CSNNE.com contacted both Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk on Monday as well, and both players arent any closer to brokering a deal with a European club. Thornton is exploring potential opportunities in Europe, and is running into the same insurance challenges that many NHL players face while attempting to protect themselves from potential injuries.

A US underwriter estimated to CSNNE.com that NHL players will be footing a bill of roughly 10-25K per million of salary for each month that they play in Europe just in insurance costs.

The Belfast Giants team that the Bruins played two years ago in Northern Ireland would be a natural fit for a guy like Thornton thats only two generations removed from his Irish heritage. But thus far the Bs enforcer and the Belfast club havent come to an agreement on a deal suitable for both sides.

Boychuk hasnt explored the European option as of yet either. The Bruins defenseman is going to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future skating with some of his teammates. The question becomes how quickly the opportunities for NHL players dry up in the European Leagues as so many hockey players flock to Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland among other places.

Well see, I guess, said Boychuk. I am not leaving right now. I know that much. I dont know where Ill go if I do end up playing in Europe.

Zdeno Chara is one European player that hasnt made the move back to his native Slovakia quite yet. The insurance premium would be considerable for a 33-year-old player carrying a big salary price tag like Chara, but he is rumored to be headed to Bratislava ifwhen he does opt for Europe.

Chara would be reunited with good buddy and former Bruins forward Miro Satan if he hops over to Slovakia, but the Bs captains daughter is already enrolled in Boston schools for the semester so Chara will be taking his time before making any final decisions.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Boston goalie Tuuka Rask has been hard to beat this season and was at his best against Buffalo again.

"You start thinking, `how are we going to get one by this guy,'" Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wondered aloud Saturday.

Rask nearly shut out the Sabres for the second time in a month, keeping them off the scoresheet for 2 1/2 periods and making 17 of his career-high 35 saves in the third to help the Bruins hold on for a 2-1 win.

"Every team likes to have these kind of goaltenders and a lot of teams do," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're just fortunate enough that he's been one of those guys that, whenever you slip a little bit, or lose a little bit of momentum, or you're having a slow start, or a tough night, those guys step up and help you win some hockey games."

Over his last 11 starts, beginning with his 4-0 shutout over Buffalo on Nov. 7, Rask is 7-3-1 with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

"I feel good," Rask said. "I'm seeing the puck well. Guys are doing a great job keeping them on the outside and clearing the rebounds for the most part, so that helps out."

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their last four.

"We're getting better as a team, we're getting points and climbing up the standings," said Krejci, who has 10 points in his last 12 games. "Hopefully we can keep it up."

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

"First two periods, we had a tough time generating some offensive chances," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "They kind of just stayed on top."

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:44 of the third when he knocked in the rebound of David Pastrnak's missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and flip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Julien said Beleskey will be evaluated when the team returns to Boston. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Buffalo had just three shots on goal in the first period.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.