Thornton, Boychuk out for the Bruins


Thornton, Boychuk out for the Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Shawn Thornton was okay after taking 40 stitches in a long, grotesque gash above his right eye caused by Fernando Pisanis skate blade, but there are several team-wide ramifications stemming from the injury suffered Tuesday night against the Blackhawks.Thornton wont be in the lineup tonight against the Maple Leafs after failing to gain medical clearance from the team doctors that sewed him up, and hell likely be wearing a visor until the nasty looking wound heals completely. The Bs enforcer donned a visor two years ago when he incurred a smaller gash on the other side of his forehead, and said hell never get used to that piece of protective equipment on his helmet.Im not used to a visor, but Ive worn one a few times before said Thornton. I feel great. Im 100 percent, but Im told that Im medically not cleared because of the stitches inside my head. Thats the doctors call and I guess they want to give it a couple extra days because we have the extra bodies. Theres no point in getting it ripped open.Thorntons scratch led to several lineup changes with the Bruins on the verge of clinching the Northeast Division title with a victory in regulation tonight against Toronto. Michael Ryder will be back in the lineup in Thorntons place skating with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, and hopes to snap an 11-game goal-scoring drought thats mounted up as the games began to take on higher meaning at the end of the regular season.You definitely dont want to be out of the lineup. Thats for sure, said Ryder. When youre in the lineup you certainly dont want to try and do too much. Try and make sure you help the team rather than hurt it.Things get worse if you try to do too much. I just need to go out and play my game and then its a coachs decision after that.The Bs will also start resting their defensemen corps, and that starts tonight with Johnny Boychuk getting a blow while Steve Kampfer is placed back in the lineup against a desperate Maple Leafs team. Kampfer has been scratched five straight games and hasnt played since a March 17 loss to the Nashville Predators that saw the puck-moving defenseman make some critical plays in the third period and overtime that led to the defeat.The youngster took responsibility for the mistakes after the game, and has been working diligently at practice waiting for his next chance.Claude Julien stressed Boychuk was being rested to help get the team ready for the playoffs, and had nothing to do with performance on the ice a practice that Bs fans will likely see more of as the team is cementing their seeding in the Eastern Conference standings. Boychuk has been playing some of his best hockey of the season for the Bs over the last two weeks, but can certainly use a quick rest before the postseason gets going.Kampfer is going to play tonight," Julien said. "Boychuk is going to sit out this one, and were going to kind of maybe rotate guys in and out. Its got nothing do with their play more than we have an opportunity to give some guys some playing time. We want to make sure we do, and well work through it. Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and it appears that hell get the start against the Maple Leafs while riding a four-game winning streak that includes only two goals allowed and a pair of shutouts. Julien said that its likely that Shane Hnidy will see his first NHL action of the season when the Bruins play the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Hnidy has been activated, and the Bruins coaching staff has been looking for the proper opportunity to get The Sheriff into action.

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Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.