Bruins brace for new head shot enforcement

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Bruins brace for new head shot enforcement

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins spent Tuesday morning working out off the ice and readying for their Black and White scrimmage in Providence, but they also spent time at the movies. Both Bs training camp groups watched the NHLNHLPA sponsored video about the new rules governing head shots and boarding calls for the upcoming hockey.

The Bruins have always been a team sensitive to the injuries, given Marc Savards difficulties after suffering through a Matt Cooke cheap shot and the Patrice Bergeron season lost to a severe concussion on a hit from behind. So the Bruins players paid close attention to the video, but most veteran players said it wouldnt change the way they already play the game.

Defensemen like Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference talked about respecting all the other players in the league, and drawing a line when it comes to finishing off a vulnerable player.

Most of it was common sense to me. Its certainly okay to hate some of the guys that youre playing against, said McQuaid. But you also have to respect the fact that these players have a life outside the game.

Ference cautioned his teammates that theyd be foolhardy to play on the edge this season, with former NHL great Brendan Shanahan taking things over as the NHL discipline chief. There are the circumstances of the last two seasons with the needed crackdown on head shots, concussions and the indifferent league attitude that left so many players with brain injuries. Then there is also the NHLs poster boy in Sidney Crosby missing more than half of last season including the playoffs with post-concussion symptoms after he was injured in the NHL showpiece event at the Winter Classic.

The league has begun to realize it needs to protect the elite players that put rear ends in the seats, and players like Ference seem to be anticipating a disciplinarian thats going to toss the book at the first few agitators that test his resolve. The Bs defenseman will leave that up to the Matt Cooke miscreants of the world.

It seems like pretty common sense stuff, said Ference. I know youve got into specifics when youre talking about wording and stuff with rules. There are going to be gray areas, and decisions will be made by Brendan now and the referees. All you can do is hope that the referees see everything from the correct angle and then make the proper call. Thats all you can do as a player along with being responsible for what you do yourself.

Ference certainly thinks that Shanahan is waiting to get tested by NHL players willing to operate on the edge and potentially hurt fellow players while stepping firmly over that edge.

If guys arent clued in that the league will be watching especially in Brendans first year and if you think youre going to get away with anything then youre not kidding anybody, said Ference. Youre probably going to be made an example of if theres anything borderline this year.

Not every hit is malicious and there is incidental contact out there. Nobody is disputing that. But there are also definitely repeat guys that do the same hit time and time again. Youd think that if there was ever a season last year and this year combined to put that to an end, this would be the year.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

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Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.