Boston Bruins

Bruins planning to offer Rask contract in-season

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Bruins planning to offer Rask contract in-season

With Tim Thomas now officially out of the picture for the Bruins, they truly become Tuukka Rasks hockey club.

Rask has responded well to that challenge while off to a 6-1-1 record with a 1.96 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in the first three weeks of the 2013 NHL season while working on a one-year prove it deal signed this summer. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has been enthused enough with Rasks performance that he indicated on Thursday the Bruins will be working to sign the 26-year-old goalie to a multi-year contract extension during this abbreviated 48-game regular season.

The Bruins GM also shot down the notion there was a connection between Rasks brilliant 20-save performance against the Habs on Wednesday night, and the deal jettisoning Thomas to Long Island less than 24 hours later.

Nothing is imminent and I can leave it at that, said Chiarelli. The Thomas trade has kind of been in the works for a while and it just coincidental that Tuukka had a terrific game last night.

Breaching my own policy of not discussing contracts, we will bring up talks with Tuukka at some point in this season, in hoping to extend him. I know the perception looks like one follows the other and I was waiting to pull the trigger based on a great game by Tuukka. Weve been pretty open with Tuukka and Tim as far as when we would see them ending up, I call it a succession plan.

We havent strayed from that. That game against the Habs for Tuukka was a divisional game, an improving team that were going to see a lot and he held the fort in the first period. That gave me a good feeling, but we always had this succession plan to install Rask and we were going to carry through with it.

The guess is that Rasks final contract extension will reside somewhere in a range between the recent deals procured for Ondrej Pavelec (5 years and 19.5 million) and Carey Price (6 years and 39.5 million) with his ultimate performance over the course of this season filling out the numbers. Its a wide range to be sure, but Rask is expected to come up in the middle (5 million per season) of those deals if he can maintain his high level of play as a No. 1 goaltender for Boston this season.

Now that Thomas is long gone but not forgotten, it is Chiarellis job to assign a value on a player in Rask during a 48-game shortened season when very little is normal in the world of the NHL.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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