Morning Skate 56: B's ready to 'do some damage'

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Morning Skate 56: B's ready to 'do some damage'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON So heres an interesting tweet from the NHL that really explains how important closing things out is for the Bruins: @NHL: Did you know? Bruins are 1 "W" away from their 1st conf. final since '92. Only other teams who haven't made final 4 since: Phx CBJ Nas Atl.Thats right. Only the orphan Coyotes' franchise in Glendale, the small-market, NHL version of the Minnesota Twins (Nashville), and the downtrodden hockey franchises in Columbus and Atlanta have been held out of the conference finals since 1992 . . . along with the Original Six Black and Gold.If the Bs want to make a statement, then its time to borrow a few pop culture phrases: the always favored Sweep the Leg from the Karate Kid and Finish Him! command from the classic Mortal Kombat video game. The Bruins have the Philadelphia Flyers reeling, doubting themselves and severely regretting their decision to solve their goaltending issues on the cheap for this season. Theres also the statement that the Bruins know they can make by stepping on the Broad Street Bullies while the team is down, and in doing so fully vanquishing the questions about last years debacle against Philly in Games 4-7.
Brad Marchand is one of the new guys that never got on the ice last playoffs when he was scratched in favor of veteran Trent Whitfield during the postseason, and the smallest guy on the ice is ready to make the biggest difference in a closeout game.Its always a tough battle, but we have the home-ice advantage, said Marchand. You have to keep the collapse in the back of your mind just in case you need to use it whether youre up or down. We have a different team and I think over the half of the guys are new on the team this year.Its a new mentality. We have a great crew here and we know we can do some damage. If were focused and playing hard then were going to put ourselves in a good position. Theres a ton of pressure on us. Everybody is going to be looking at us to see if were going to fold. We have to make sure we keep that stuff away from our team and stay prepared for the game.On to the links: The Edmonton Journal explores how possible it is that the Oilers could end up leaving Edmonton for another city looking for a hockey team. Yahoo! Sports catches with Jaromir Jagr to talk about a possible return to the NHL, concussions and life in the KHL as a veritable hockey deity on Russia. The Globe and Mail has a good piece on a player from a different generation that shows hockey players did get concussions in the Old Time Hockey days and are trying to help pave the way for research. TSNs Scott Cullen has a look at Vancouvers Ryan Kesler, who plunged a dagger into the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in their series and has the Canucks poised for the kill. Damien Cox is catching the Smashville fever while watching the Predators go through the postseason, and win or lose they are a hockey success story in a non-hockey market. Jaspers Rink has a good look at Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, and the vultures flying around his office in the Nations capital after another early playoff exit. The Green Men have taken over the NHL and were in Nashville last night amusing Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban as they took in the PredatorsCanucks tilt at Bridgestone Arena. Good stuff from NHL draft guru Kirk Luedeke asking if the Memorial Cup and championship-level junior teams produce better hockey prospects than other comparative teams around junior hockey.

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

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

Khudobin happy to step in for Rask in an 'important game'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Bruins' original plan was for Anton Khudobin to get one out of the four big games with playoff implications this week, so the fact he’s starting Saturday night vs. the Islanders in a do-or-die game is in keeping with that plan. 

But the 30-year-old Khudobin couldn’t have been planning on making the start vs. the Isles after the Bruins lost the first three games this week vs. Toronto, Ottawa and Tampa Bay, and have lost four in a row in regulation overall.

All of that changed on Friday when Tuukka Rask determined he couldn’t play due to a lower body issue. That leaves the Bruins backup goaltender preparing to start in the biggest game of the regular season. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy said there would still have been a discussion about going with Khudobin tonight based on the way things had gone for Rask over the past four games, but it would have been bold going with the backup over a theoretically healthy No. 1 goalie.

“It would have been a conversation to have with [Rask] based on his physical well-being. He’s not used to the workload, but at this time of year that’s just what happens sometimes,” said Cassidy of Rask, who had started three games in four days before tonight’s DNP. “It would have been a conversation. We were considering Anton for a game this week, and it just so happens that it worked out to be [against the Islanders].”

It’s a good thing that Khudobin has won his past four games  and is playing his best hockey of the season. He said he's determined to be at his best despite his last start coming 10 days ago in Calgary.

“We don’t know what’s going on there [with Tuukka], so I’m just taking it day-by-day,” said Khudobin, who has a solid .916 save percentage in his past five appearances for the Black and Gold. “I’m not thinking too far ahead. It’s always great to play. It’s a really important game, and it’s the time of year where every point is really important.

“I’ve played pretty good and the guys have played really well in front of me. We’ve gotten the wins, so that’s the most important thing. When you get the wins, of course, it always feels really good.”

The Bruins showed a lot of faith in Khudobin signing him to a two-year deal on July 1 to be Rask’s backup. For most of this season he struggled badly in that role while going back and forth to Providence. Still, all of that will be forgotten if Khudobin can battle and compete his way to winning against the Islanders and help stabilize a Bruins team that looks headed for another late-season fall amid a four-game losing streak. 

Saturday, March 25: Does NHL have star double-standard?

Saturday, March 25: Does NHL have star double-standard?

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting no sleep till Brooklyn.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Harrington with a good piece on the star treatment double-standard when the NHL’s best players misbehave on the ice.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker asks what is wrong with the San Jose Sharks as the playoffs beckon.  

*Claude Julien hasn’t had the impact that the Montreal Canadiens were hoping for, says the Hockey News.

*Hockey Canada is contemplating sending a “B team” to replace the NHL star players at the 2018 Olympic Games.

*Jarome Iginla is undecided on whether or not he’s going to retire after 20 Hall of Fame level seasons in the NHL.

*Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has his eyes on the playoffs as the Leafs have carved out a temporary placement for themselves.

*With the Minnesota Wild in a bit of a limbo, Bruce Boudreau is urging his players to learn from their mistakes and ready to finish up strong.

*For something completely different: I hope this Justice League movie is good, but I have zero faith in Zak Snyder.