Bruins must avoid letdown


Bruins must avoid letdown

UNIONDALE -- If the Thursday night game against the NHL cellar dwellers in Columbus was in the trap category of games on the Bruins schedule, then Saturday nights tilt against the Islanders might be the ultimate trap game.

Its the kind of trap game at half-filled Nassau Coliseum that would make Admiral Its a Trap! Akbar proud, and could lure the Bruins right into the hockey pitfall. After all the Bruins have important divisional games against the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the three-game road trip, and still need to push a little harder to get themselves comfortably within the top eight Eastern Conference teams by Thanksgiving morning.

Its going to be good for us to go on the road. Its a big road trip for us, three games, said Patrice Bergeron. You got the Islanders, but then youve got two teams that are in our division that are going to be huge games. Were going to start with the Islanders and its always tough to play there. Its going to be a good challenge for us to be on the road.

If the Bruins arent in a playoff spot by the time they celebrate American Thanksgiving with the truly patriotic combination of beer, carved turkey and NFL football, then it becomes an uphill climb through the rest of the season. So all three road games are important for the Bruins coming off 13 of their first 17 games on the TD Garden ice, but the Saturday night Isles tilt is the one game they might just overlook.

Claude Julien granted his Bs players an off-day on Friday after determining that his team appeared fatigued against the Blue Jackets, but there has to be a nagging suspicion that the same distracted hockey club might appear this weekend. The Bruins were sloppy with their transition passes, careless with the puck around their own net and their best offensive players never got untracked over 65 minutes of hockey against the Blue Jackets.

There is little reason to think the Bruins can avoid the same fate against the lowly Islanders while they muddle their way through their season with the bizarre three-man goaltender rotation.

The Habs and Sabres are much racier opponents for many good reasons: The Bruins are looking for revenge against their arch-rival Habs after the Canadiens slapped Boston across the face with a home-and-home sweep at the end of the October. The two straight losses to Montreal, actually, have been attributed as the wakeup call that finally snapped the Bruins out of their Stanley Cup hangover.

Then theres the revenge game against the Sabres after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller last weekend at TD Garden, and set off a ridiculous open season on goaltenders narrative across the NHL. Much of it could be tossed at the feet of Miller and his profane barbs tossed at Lucic in the postgame locker room, but there is also much for Buffalo to prove against the Bruins.

The Sabres have been ridiculed across the NHL for failing to stand up for Miller after Lucic collided with the Buffalo netminder, and there should be plenty of fire on the Sabres bench to prove theyre not such a heartless bunch of wimps. The NHL might prevent the Wednesday night pre-Thanksgiving match from turning into a complete gong show by simply watching with a heavy dose of scrutiny, but theres no doubt the Bruins are already thinking about it.

Thats the challenge for the Bs coaching staff, and the players. They will all say the right things about focusing on each game one shift at a time, but they need to prove it against the Islanders like they didnt prove it against the Blue Jackets.

You don't take anybody lightly. You know to end a streak you can lose against the last place team or you can badly beat the first place team, said David Krejci. You just don't take anybody lightly and just play your game I think that's what we have to do from now on.

The Bruins got lucky with the shootout win behind Tuukka Rask Thursday night, and arent likely to be as fortunate against the Islanders this time around. The Bruins have experienced some awful performances on Long Island over the last few years in such a challenging environment for a high level hockey effort, and honest-to-goodness intensity and work ethic are the only antidotes for the Uniondale malaise.

Thats the important first step in a three-pronged process for a perfect road trip in the first extended series of games away from the Boston home base of operations for the Spoked B crew.

Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban


Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It could get a little dicey for the Bruins over the next couple of days.

Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin were missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and instead rookie Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Black and Gold against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.

Rask hasn’t been on the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils when he re-aggravated a lower body injury and Khudobin will be out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered at Monday’s practice. It appeared the B’s backup suffered a right hand/wrist injury in the early moments of the practice, and Subban was left as the lone goaltender until Boston brought up Zane McIntyre on emergency recall Tuesday morning.

Julien said the Bruins have confidence in Subban’s ability to play a great game for them, but he’s struggled so far in Providence while getting yanked from two of his four AHL starts this season.

“I just want [Subban] to go in tonight and play a really solid game because we know that he can. He’s a good goaltender, so just because he had a bit of a rough outing [in the AHL] doesn’t mean he has to have one tonight. This is an opportunity for him to play well, and to demonstrate that he’s ready to play in the NHL,” said Julien. “We have bad games and we tell our players ‘Let’s not live in the past, let’s think about what we have to do to rectify it and play better in the next game.’ So I think our goaltender is in the same situation.

“Our game plan is about playing good defense with Tuukka or without Tuukka. That doesn’t change. We understand that some of the teams that we’ve played lately (Montreal and New Jersey) are very stingy, so we have to give up the least amount of goals we can because we’re not going to score a ton against those teams. When you put a system together you believe in it, and you go out and play your game. You don’t adjust your game for other teams, and adjusting for injuries isn’t quite what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a solid performance from our team, and that will trump any injury that we have.”

Oh by the way, the Bruins also have a road game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a back-to-back situation that’s less than ideal with injuries piling up. In addition a Subban/McIntyre tandem in goal, the Bruins will also be without David Backes with what Claude Julien termed “a minor issue” that also has him day-to-day.

In the good news department, Adam McQuaid will make his season debut after missing the first five games of the season with an upper body injury. Rob O’Gara was sent to the Providence Bruins to make room for him coming off injured reserve. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Wild with Joe Morrow as the healthy scratch on the back end:







Liles-C. Miller


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while having watched the Curious George Halloween special about eight times over the last three or four days thanks to my three-year-old son.

*Bob McKenzie with a great story in former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore talking a shift as an Uber driver as his hockey work has dried up.

*Alex Radulov is earning some early respect for his play from his Habs teammates and the fickle Canadiens fans, but let’s see how the whole season plays out for the notoriously combustible Russian winger.

*Zach Werenski has taken an early lead among his NHL rookie peers for the Calder Trophy, but it looks like it’s going to be a crowded field this year. Just a couple of weeks in, Brandon Carlo certainly looks like he could be in the conversation as well.

*Pioneering female goaltender Shannon Szabados has been cut from the Peoria team in the Southern Pro League.

*The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of advice for the Chicago Cubs about playing in the big games as the Cubbies get ready for their World Series close-up.

*A more mature David Perron is having greater success the second time around with the St. Louis Blues while contributing in many different areas.

*For something completely different: a really fun story of a Hollywood Reporter contributor recording the reactions of her 7-year-old son watching Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was around the same age when Empire came out, so I’m sure my reactions were pretty similar to his at different points in the movie.