Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

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Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

TORONTO There should be plenty of motivation up and down the Maple Leafs roster for tonights TorontoBoston clash at the Air Canada Centre, but one player in particular will be skating like its the game of his life.

Joe Colborne was part of Bostons galaxy of young Bruins stars after he was selected with a first round pick in the 2008 draft, and there was a lot to like with the oversized center. A 6-foot-5 pivot with size, leadership qualities and smarts that also had plenty of playmaking skill and offensive upside, Colborne was a scouts dream in terms of potential.

Clearly Boston wasnt the only team that noticed him, however.

He was midway through his first full pro season in Providence when he found himself packing his bags for Toronto as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade in late February. Fast forward to tonight when the 21-year-old Colborne will suit up for the first time against his former organization since the trade that on some level helped net the Bruins a Stanley Cup.

Colborne never played in a single NHL game for the Black and Gold, but that didnt stop him from running a gamut of emotions while watching the Bs win the Stanley Cup last spring.

The Bruins are obviously stacked at the center position when it comes to organizational depth, and Colborne knew it was going to be difficult to crack Bostons NHL lineup in the short term. But he wasnt about to hide the crestfallen emotions he felt when the trade came down, either.

I was pretty disappointed when the trade happened. Im not gonna lie. I loved Boston and loved everything about Boston. You could see they were on a path for a lot of success, so it was tough, admitted Colborne. But since Ive been in Toronto theyve welcome me in and its been unbelievable. Im pretty happy with where I am right now.

His current state of puck happiness didnt keep his mind from wandering back to his time with the Black and Gold while watching them battle it out with the Canucks during the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was hard watching personally because you know you might have had a chance to be up there with the Bruins and be a part of it, said Colborne. At the same time I was happy for them. I went through the whole Philadelphia series the season before. I realize how much hard work went into that right from management on down because they had a big gut check there. The way they bounced back was really neat."

I have Boston to thank for a lot of my development over the last few years. That said Im really hoping we dominate them like theyve done to us over the last few games. Obviously you want to show your best, and make them regret the decision they made to trade Colborne.

Colborne has four points (a goal and three assists) in five games with the Leafs while centering the third line for Toronto with Joey Crabb and Matt Frattin. He seems to be delivering on the promise everybody saw in Boston. It started at the AHL level where Jumbo Joe tore it up for the Toronto Marlies for two months with 10 goals in 13 games before finally getting promoted the big club. Now he finds himself smack dab in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff pack, and facing a Bs club the Maple Leafs are looking to knock down the standings.

Jordan Caron has known Colborne since the two were 14-year-old midget players in Saskatchewan on a fast track to potential NCAA careers, and is proud of the way hes fought his way to a spot in Toronto. Theyve both come a long way from inexperienced 19-year-olds in the AHL for long stretches of last season.

Its great for him. Hes such a good guy and hes so talented that you knew he was going to make it one way or the other, said Caron. He had a great start in the AHL, hes been called up and hes doing well. Good for him.

Hes such a skilled player, and hes really powerful with that long reach. Hes got a good shot too. Hes going to get even stronger than he is now, and that will make him even better.

Nobody is expecting a Tyler Seguin-type hat trick explosion for Colborne when he suits up against the Bruins tonight, but its also a game the talented center has been waiting nine months for.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

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Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.