Hanrahan on Bailey: 'All you can do is root for each other'

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Hanrahan on Bailey: 'All you can do is root for each other'

BOSTON   In December 2011, the Red Sox traded three young players, including Josh Reddick who went on to have a stellar season, to the As to acquire  Andrew Bailey to be their new closer, after the loss of Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies in free agency.
 
But, Bailey was hurt at the end of spring training in an odd play while attempting to cover first base and underwent surgery on his right thumb on April 4, the day before Opening Day. Bailey didnt make his season debut until Aug. 14, and struggled for the remainder of the season. In 19 games, spanning 15 13 innings, he posted a record of 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA, six saves, and three blown saves.
 
Now, Bailey has lost the closers job to Joel Hanrahan, who was acquired in a trade with the Pirates on Dec. 26 two days shy of a year to the day when Bailey was acquired. In the last two seasons Hanrahan is fourth in the National League with a combined 76 saves and a 2.24 ERA. In that span he has recorded 128 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .205 batting average, being named a NL All-Star in both seasons. He and Atlantas Craig Kimbrel are the only pitchers to collect at least 35 saves and post an ERA under 3.00 in both 2011 and 2012.
 
Hanrahan has the resume and the qualifications to take over the closers job. On the proverbial paper, he represents an upgrade. His 36 saves in 2012 are one more than the Sox as a team were able to post.
 
Still, being brought in to take the place of a pitcher who will now be one your bullpen mates can make for some uncomfortable dynamics.
 
But Hanrahan knows its part of the package. A former starting pitcher, the second-round pick of the Dodgers out of Norwalk High in Iowa in 2000, he was granted free agency after the 2006 season. In late 2008, while with the Nationals, he was named the teams closer. Less than a year later, with just five saves, he was traded to the Pirates.
 
Hanrahan doesnt know Bailey, but from what hes heard, the Sox erstwhile closer is a good guy and a good teammate. Hes looking forward to getting to know him and working with him.  And, hell be rooting for him.
 
I think thats part of the business, Hanrahan said. Ive been through a situation like that before.
 
I talked with former As and now Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who knows him from their Oakland days and talked about what kind of guy is he. I dont really know him at all. McCarthy said he's going to be a great guy. He thinks we'll get along great and all you can do is root for each other to have success and pull for the team and that's what we're going to do I believe. He was in a tough spot. Any time you injure your hand in spring training, that's not fun, especially coming over to a new team. I'm sure he's got a lot to prove this year.
 
Which can only help the Sox.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“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 find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

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.