Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

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Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash has brutally affected people all across the hockey world, and unfortunately the young and talented Bruins prospects at rookie training camp are no different.

Bs 2011 second round pick Alexander Khokhlachev grew up in the Russian capital city of Moscow and has watched all of the news and reports out of his home country with wide-eyed horror over the last week while working out in North America for his first NHL training camp.

Its been very difficult for Khokhlachev being so far away from home when tragedy struck at the heart of his mother country, and things hit very close to Kokos heart when the crash took the lives of a pair of his friends the talented center grew up playing with.

Khokhlachev played for a pair of junior Russian National teams with 18-year-old Maxim Shuvalov and also knew 21-year-old Sergei Ostapchuk, who had played a pair of seasons in the Quebec Major Junior League before joining on with Lokomotiv in the KHL. Both young men were lost before the prime of their lives when the Yak-42 plane ripped apart in Yaroslavl.

Khokhlachev mourns the loss of both comrades.

I went to one school with Ostapchuk. This is just terrible. It was the first Lokomotiv road trip of the year, so they brought some of the young guys that I knew. Just really terrible news, said Khokhlachev. There were a couple of young guys there. It was shock first thing when you heard and then you just felt really bad for all of those guys. Its a really bad time. I dont even know how to explain it.

The crash came at the end of a challenging summer for Khokhlachev, who scored 30 goals with the Windsor Spitfires last season while learning English and mastering the North American game before heading home to Moscow for a couple of weeks.

Then Khokhlachev headed to Toronto for the NHL rookie combine, hit Minnesota for the NHL draft and then flew to Boston for a prospect camp that he wasnt quite physically prepared for after the Bs tapped him in the second round.

Once the Bs prospect camp was over Khokhlachev went right back to Ontario to begin working out in Windsor with some new instructions and training tips from the Bs training staff.

The whirlwind summer appeared to be winding up on a high note with Bs training camp on the horizon and Khokhlachev celebrating his 18th birthday on the first day of rookie camp. But that was all cast in a different light when he saw the Russian plane go down immediately after take-off, cutting down the lives of so many good hockey people.

It was really tough when you dont know everything thats going on, said Khokhlachev. Ive been reading the news every day and checking on things. I think theyre going to find out in the next couple of days what actually happened with the plane. So we just wait for now.

Khokhlachev knows that it will be important to impress when he plays in the two rookie games against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum over the next two evenings, but the Russian scorer will be doing so with a bit of a heavy heart.

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

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.