RALEIGH, NC The Boston Bruins will finally uncover their goalie understudy for a road game against a Carolina Hurricanes team that swept them in all four regular season match-ups last season.
No big deal for Anton Khudobin, though. The goaltender from Kazakhstan was the first Bruins goaltender off the ice at PNC Arena, meaning he will get the start against the young, hungry Canes. Tuukka Rask had started the four previous games to begin the regular season and put together a 1.96 goals against average and .925 save percentage, but the arrival of the season's first back-to-back games prompted the Bruins coaching staff to go with Khudobin.
He showed something last year in the one game he played for us against Ottawa and he had a decent year in Providence too, said Claude Julien, referencing the 44-save masterpiece against the Senators from late last season that cinched his gig as the backup goalie for this year. No matter what, you have to use both goaltenders in this short schedule.
"We have confidence in both of them and were going to rely on both of them. Ive said that from the get-go. He has an opportunity to show that tonight.
The 26-year-old puck-stopper played 24 games in the KHL, and went 6-14-4 with a .912 save percentage and 2.96 goals against average for a lowly Moscow Oblast Atlant during the lockout. So he should be ready to jump in for the Black and Gold after watching for the last couple of weeks, and get into his first game action since letting up five goals in the preseason Black and Gold scrimmage in his only game action.
Its been a long time since I played a game in the NHL, but I know what to expect pretty much, said Khudobin. It will be my first experience against Carolina, but it will be a good experience. You just have to work every day. You cant stand still. Every day you just move forward and work on something new.
It will be an important debut for Khudobin as the 10-15 games he appears in during the 48-game shortened season could really impact Bostons playoff standings. Carolina provides the setting for his first attempt at locking down a permanent NHL job with the Black and Gold.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while finding it unbelievable that some people are questioning the heart of Isaiah Thomas at this point.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur with a column on Phil Kessel playing all of his cards right with the Penguins. It’s something he never did in an untenable Toronto situation where he and Dion Phaneuf were expected to be franchise players instead of the “third banana” type roles they were meant for on good teams with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
That was very clear when he was with the Bruins early in his career, was not a good match with the hearty crew that ended up winning a Cup in 2011 and basically didn’t want to play for Claude Julien anymore after just three seasons. It was more clear when he pulled the same reluctant public figure card as Toronto’s high-paid star forward in the NHL’s biggest media market, and never did more than put up his numbers. Now in Pittsburgh he’s clearly well behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the pecking order, plays in a place where he can fade into the background a little bit without too many problems and a lot of his eccentricities are viewed as charming, or Phil being Phil, rather than Kessel being viewed as a bit of an odd duck or a malcontent.
But to this Bruins writer he’ll always be the guy that clashed with Julien over the stick that he preferred to use, clashed with Zdeno Chara on the ice for his work habits and was ultimately a player that wasn’t very popular at all in the Bruins dressing room despite the obvious talent and the courageous battle with cancer he waged during his first year in Boston. He’s obviously matured and is more well-rounded in some ways than his Boston days, but in many ways he’s the exact same Phil that doesn’t want to change for anybody or anything.
*Here’s the New York Islanders season in review after disappointing with a failure to get into the playoffs, and a big situation coming up with John Tavares.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen done for the playoffs after being diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome.” What a big blow to the Predators.
*The Ottawa Senators are still looking to push the Penguins to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s obviously going to be a difficult task for them.
*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean had their Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, and tackled some hot topics like the Nashville crowd throwing a dead duck on the ice.
*Ryan Getzlaf addresses the fine from the NHL for using a vulgar slur on the ice, apparently aimed at nobody in particular according to the player.
*Here’s a set of statistics that effectively sums up the pathetic regular season put forth by the Colorado Avalanche.
*For something completely different: In an interesting rumor, the Mr. Robot show creator is apparently in talks on an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie.