Khokhlachev still playing in KHL despite reduced role


Khokhlachev still playing in KHL despite reduced role

The rumors of Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachevs swift exit from the KHL may perhaps come true eventually.

But those whispers of an OHL return for Koko appear to be premature at this point according to members of the Bruins front office. Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney indicated to last week that Bostons 2011 second round pick was still playing in the KHL for the Moscow Spartak team operated by his father, and that there was no concrete plan to have him ship back to the OHLs Windsor Spitfires.

There was speculation Koko was headed back to Windsor when the Spitfires cleared off a roster spot last week presumably for the dynamic Russian scorers return, but Khokhlachev still appears committed to playing in his home country for the time being.

Koko is still in Moscow and there is nothing definitive about him coming back to North America, said Sweeney. Hes still playing for his fathers team currently. The biggest thing we want to see with a young player like that is the ice time and the situations where he can continue to develop.

Its debatable if thats what is currently going on with Khokhlachev as he appears to have been lost in the shuffle at the KHL level.

The 19-year-old Koko is struggling with two points (one goal, one assist) and a minus-5 in 16 games with Spartak, and those observing the Bs prospect in Russia say hes seen limited ice time in a thirdfourth line role. Some of Khokhlachevs reduced role can be traced back to the influx of NHL players to the KHL brought on by the lockout, but its pretty clear that Koko needs to play more at this key stage of his professional development.

Khokhlachev averaged just under 30 goals and 73 points in his two seasons with Windsor, and would be placed back in a lead offensive role if he did indeed return to the Spitfires at some point this year.

Khokhlachev and the Bruins have both indicated that the talented youngster is scheduled to attend Bostons training camp next season with the lofty intent of winning an NHL job.

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

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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


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.