Boston Bruins

Schneider prevails in homecoming

635542.jpg

Schneider prevails in homecoming

BOSTON -- Cory Schneider's last start in Boston came in March of 2007 with Boston College, during the Hockey East Finals.

He returned as a starter on Saturday as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and did what Roberto Luongo couldn't do in three Stanley Cup Final games last year: win.

Schneider was part of last year's Canucks team that lost to the Bruins in seven games. But he didn't make a start. He got the call on Saturday, though, and made 36 saves in picking up his ninth win of the season, in a building he's quite familiar with.

"I think our whole group is real happy for Cory," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver's 4-3 win over the Bruins. "He's been in our organization here for five years. A really quality kid, and he spent three years with our farm team, worked real hard at his game, and last year got an opportunity to come up and spend the whole year with us. And he was a huge part of our team when we needed him. He always stepped in and did a great job.

"He never had the opportunity to play in front of his friends and family, and we thought that, after analyzing not just that -- because there were other areas to analyze -- but I just thought that he'd give us a good game. We've got two good goaltenders, and he played well for us tonight."

Schneider is a Marblehead, Mass. native. His parents, brother, and friends were in attendance. But it was clear from the get-go, he wasn't at B.C. anymore, and Bruins fans only care about the color of the jersey.

"It's a different vibe, but we got a good taste of it last year," said Schneider. "So, it's nothing new. It was completely expected. It's a great atmosphere to play in. It's a fun building to win in. But for me, it was fun to play in front of people who have grown up cheering for me and supporting me my whole life."

And clearly, the bad blood between these two teams is just getting worse. That was evident four minutes in, when an all-out brawl broke out in front of Vancouver's bench.

The last time the Bruins were in that type of melee with a team in the regular season was last year agains the Montreal Canadiens, and it ended up with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price dropping the gloves.

"I was looking down at Tim Thomas to see if he's coming," said Scheider, when asked what was going through his mind during the brawl. "But he stayed in his net, and I stayed in mine. He didn't look that interested in it, and neither was I. As a goalie, it's not my place to be grabbing guys and jumping guys unless I have to, or if their goalie gets in there."

Thomas and Schneider stayed in their nets, and Schneider was able to one-up one of the best goaltenders in the league.

"It's a great feeling," said Schneider. "As a college player, I didn't know if I would ever get the chance to play here again. So to be able to come back and have this opportunity in front of a lot of friends and family and people at home watching, it was really cool, and I guess even more special because we don't come here very often. I'm glad we got the win."

Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

bruins_anton_khudobin_121516.jpg

Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while already hating my fantasy football team just a couple of weeks into things.

*Interesting look at why NHL players hate analytics and why most of them don’t even care what Corsi is or how it’s tabulated.

*Interesting piece on the play-by-play for Bruins radio, where over 200 applicants threw their hat in the ring to replace Dave Goucher as the voice of the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston is one of the finalists and has great on the call on Tuesday night, so count me as rooting for him to wind up getting the gig he’s worked his whole life for.

*This is actually a fairly thoughtful and well-researched blog post on the Blackhawks logo and why it’s unfair to claim that it’s racist using the same arguments as for the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians.

*It’s unfortunate, but an arena conflict between the Flames and the city of Calgary is the same kind of thing that’s forced franchises to move in other NHL cities.

*Good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance about Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Sheahan and the bond he has with one Michigan family and one special little boy.

*Count the Winnipeg Jets among the teams that are going to have former NHL referees stop by training camp to give them the lowdown on slashing and face-offs. I think everybody understands the slashing enforcement, but this face-off stuff is ridiculous.

*For something completely different: I’ve enjoyed “Billy on the Street” while it’s been on TruTV, but it looks like it’s finding a new home soon.