Julien: Bruins 'focusing on the moment'

Julien: Bruins 'focusing on the moment'

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON The tests just keep on coming for the Bruins in the final weeks of the regular season as they face a Chicago Blackhawks team desperate to cement a playoff spot just a year after winning the Stanley Cup.Tonights game against Chicago ends a stretch of seven games where the Bs had played five playoff-ready opponents as well as games against teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils that were hungry to force their way into the postseason conversation.Bruins coach Claude Julien is attempting to get his team into the playoff mindset over the final three weeks of the regular season, and a pretty meaningful 2-1 win over the Flyers last weekend was a good start.That continues against the Blackhawks with the very-same lineup that Boston featured against Philly in an impressive effort.I think for us right now its focusing on the moment, said Julien. From here on in we have to maintain our play, our level of play that weve had lately and continue to try and even improve that.Theres no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If were going to move some players in and out from here on in its because were taking it easy. Its because we want everybody ready to go. Thats kind of the message we gave to the players.For the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews has 12 goals and 12 assists in his last 18 games for Chicago and goaltender Corey Crawford has played in 20 straight games for the Blackhawks and may play tonight after the Hawks beat the Red Wings in overtime last night in Detroit. Tuukka Rask, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, Michael Ryder, Steve Kampfer, Adam McQuaid, Shane Hnidy and Tuukka Rask were among the Bruins players that skated during an optional on-ice workout at TD Garden.Julien indicated hes going to get some of the extra players into games soon, but that probably wouldnt be happening against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. Expect to see Hnidy in at least a couple of games prior to the playoffs in case injuries or slumps make his presence mandatory in the lineup. That also means Steve Kampfer and Michael Ryder are once again Boston's likely healthy scratches for tonight.Not tonight, but I think as we move on here theres certainly going to be guys moving in and out of the lineup here, said Julien, when asked about lineup changes. Were certainly preparing for that. With Rask on the ice for the optional skate, its likely that Tim Thomas will again get the start for the Bs against Chicago. Thomas is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals against average in his last three starts against the Devils, Canadiens and Flyers, and has been every bit as good as he was in the first three months of the season.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.