Boston Bruins

B's Khokhlachev shows skill, needs conditioning

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B's Khokhlachev shows skill, needs conditioning

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Bruins focused on power skating and battle drills during the double sessions in Day No. 2 of development camp at Ristuccia Arena, and once again a couple of things bubbled to the surface.

The first was during power skating drills, led by power skating instructor newcomer Besa Tsintsadze, when the youngsters were pushed to the brink of exhaustion, and the differing conditioning levels of the players were exposed. Skills coach Victor Teleguine and skating coach John McLean werent present with the youngsters as theyve been in the past development camps, and instead Tsintsadze was bringing in some new challenging elements to the same old drills.

Besa came in late in the year last season, and his ability to skate . . . they should sign him with the way he zips around out there, Cassidy said. I like what he does with the guys. He keeps them moving with edge work and puck skills work while youre working on your balance.

Russian 2011 second round pick Alex Khokhlachev was one of the players struggling to keep up with the twists and turns employed by the speedy skating teacher, and Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy admitted after the session that the 17-year-old probably wasnt quite in pro hockey conditioning.

Its understandable given their first experience with pro hockey, but its also something that casts a bit of first impression that Koko will have to be way of. When things boiled down to the battle drills during the second session Khokhlachev showed his hands and offensive instincts amid tight coverage with the puck.

The skating is always interesting because theres a lot of edge work and guys are at different levels, Cassidy said. Overall as a group I think theyre doing very well. They tested well for the most part with the odd guy that might have lagged here or there. But theyve done pretty well with everything that weve asked.

Watching some of the in-tight drills, Khokhlachev has excellent hands and he freezes goaltenders. He gets pucks up in tight. So certainly and the goal-scoring ability is there. His conditioning needs to get better, but hes one of the young guys that what usually happens is the first camp is an eye-opener. They dont realize how good physical shape professional players are in. Hell get that down, but I like his instincts around the net.

The skill is clearly there with Koko as he potted 34 goals in 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires last season during his first year in North America, but there is still plenty of work to be done for the 40th overall pick in this years NHL Draft.

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

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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Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

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Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while already hating my fantasy football team just a couple of weeks into things.

*Interesting look at why NHL players hate analytics and why most of them don’t even care what Corsi is or how it’s tabulated.

*Interesting piece on the play-by-play for Bruins radio, where over 200 applicants threw their hat in the ring to replace Dave Goucher as the voice of the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston is one of the finalists and has great on the call on Tuesday night, so count me as rooting for him to wind up getting the gig he’s worked his whole life for.

*This is actually a fairly thoughtful and well-researched blog post on the Blackhawks logo and why it’s unfair to claim that it’s racist using the same arguments as for the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians.

*It’s unfortunate, but an arena conflict between the Flames and the city of Calgary is the same kind of thing that’s forced franchises to move in other NHL cities.

*Good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance about Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Sheahan and the bond he has with one Michigan family and one special little boy.

*Count the Winnipeg Jets among the teams that are going to have former NHL referees stop by training camp to give them the lowdown on slashing and face-offs. I think everybody understands the slashing enforcement, but this face-off stuff is ridiculous.

*For something completely different: I’ve enjoyed “Billy on the Street” while it’s been on TruTV, but it looks like it’s finding a new home soon.