Thornton looking like a go vs Isles

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Thornton looking like a go vs Isles

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It appears that Shawn Thornton will be back in the lineup Wednesday night after getting the 40 stitches removed from the forehead area above the right eye and just in time for a game against infamous New York Islanders goon Trevor Gillies.Thornton has missed three games with the slice above his right eye caused by Fernando Pisanis skate blade, but had the stitches removed Tuesday and now has a long snake-like healing scar above his eye.While the Bs enforcer said he wasnt sure whether he would be playing or not, Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated Thornton was likely to be in the lineup after gaining medical clearance.Obviously if I get hit there its going to hurt, but as far as I know Im ready to go, said Thornton. Im preparing to play. I feel great. Its not that big a story anymore. Its been over a week, guys.Thornton wont play with a half-shield after ditching it on Monday morning while skating at Madison Square Garden, and it will be interesting to see who Julien opts to scratch. Rookie center Tyler Seguin seems like the most likely option after getting his ice time scaled back to eight minutes and being removed from the second power play unit against the Rangers.Thornton should be in the lineup, and well have a couple of other decisions to make before game time, said Julien.Seguin, Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, Thornton and Chris Kelly were the five forwards that took part in an optional morning skate for the Bruins at TD Garden, and it doesnt seem like Ryder or Daniel Paille would be the scratches for a Bruins team looking to fine tune things before the playoffs.Julien is a conservative hockey coach in many regards, and it certainly manifests itself when it comes to young players and playoff lineups a situation that cropped up four years ago with a very different young player in Phil Kessel.Kessel was memorably benched to start the series against the Montreal Canadiens, and responded with a big rest of the series against the Habs in the seven-game series loss to top-seeded Montreal. He finished with three goals and an assist in four playoff games against the Habs once the Bs decided to scratch Jeremy Reich in favor of Kessel, and responded in a big way on the ice.But it also permanently wrecked the relationship between coach and player, and was one of the big reasons Kessel was looking for a way out as soon as restricted free agency time hit with the Bruins.Everybody knows that the 19-year-old Seguin isnt Kessel, and is outgoing, diligent and conscientious with his teammates in a way that the introverted Maple Leafs sniper never was.But Seguin still appeared unhappy about potentially being a scratch against the Islanders, and was well aware of comments made by Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli on 98.5 the Sports Hub Wednesday morning that a Seguin playoff scratch is the way it looks to be trending, but the competition isnt over yet.Seguin wasnt very happy chatting briefly after Wednesdays skate on the Garden ice, and said he wanted to play.Im sure Ill talk to coaches about and theyll tell me why if Im scratched, said Seguin. Of course I want to be in there playing.Seguin does have only one goal in his last 16 games, and hasnt enjoyed an offensive windfall despite a raised battle level over the last month of the season. But its undeniable that Seguin has played better, faster and stronger down the stretch, and tasting the playoffs is something beneficial to his development.The problems: Michael Ryder has nine goals and 18 points in 24 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, and Daniel Paille is playing his best hockey of the season over the last two weeks. Both of those players could potentially serve in a fourth line capacity while Seguin is probably best-suited to be skating with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly as he was over the last few weeks leading into tonights game against the Isles.Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and it appears hell get the start for the Bruins against the Islanders as hes looking to rebound from a couple of uncharacteristic goals surrendered to the New York Rangers. Thomas is still holding onto the highest save percentage total in NHL single-season history with a .9376 amount just above the .9366 totaled by Dominik Hasek in the 1998-99 season. One or two more good performances should leave him with the record and two of the top three best single-season save percentage totals in NHL history.Julien said he wasnt panicking after one ugly loss to the Rangers that featured a third period collapse and one of those bothersome 3-0 leads that crumbled into nothingness.I think it depends on how you look at it, said Julien. "Everybody is looking for perfection and every little thing that doesnt go well is going to be scrutinized and criticized. But you have to look around the league. I mean Vancouver has lost two games now to Edmonton. Is there panic there? Philadelphia is having a tough time. I think once the playoffs start, the good teams are going to be ready to go. We plan on being one of those. Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.