Khudobin call-up means playoff prep begins

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Khudobin call-up means playoff prep begins

BOSTON -- Now that Anton Khudobin has been called up from Providence, it would appear the electric golden pads of Marty Turco might not get another chance to shine -- or glow -- this season.

The Bruins' first round playoff series is expected to open at TD Garden between April 12 and 14, and their plan is starting to take shape. Part of that plan was initiated Monday with Khudobins promotion to the Bruins. With Tuukka Rask hoping to take the ice this week as he recovers from a strained groinabdomen, Khudobin will need to be readied just in case Rask isnt fully healthy when the playoffs begin.

That means Thomas will get some rest in the final three regular season games -- most likely after the Penguins game -- and Khudobin will be getting the call as soon as the road game against the Ottawa Senators.

So far with Providence this year, the 5-foot-11, 203 pound goalie has gone 21-19-3 in 44 games while recording two shutouts. He currently has a 2.61 goals against average (GAA) and a .919 save percentage. After missing time at the beginning of March with a wrist injury, Khudobin returned to action on March 23 and has gone 2-2 in his last four games back.

The Bruins will be putting their best foot forward on Tuesday night against a Pittsburgh Penguins team a Cup-worthy club they might just end up facing down the road in the playoffs and then using the final week plus to gather rest prior to the postseason grind.

It will be one game at a time and well manage it that way, said Claude Julien. We have some things to think about. Were going to try to manage ice time and get some guys some rest where need be.

The plan for rest will include scaling back on the ice time minutes for key players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Johnny Boychuk and perhaps even giving a game off to players like Bergeron and Chris Kelly that have played the entire season without a single game of rest. But Julien said the challenge is divvying up the rest while balancing that off with making a statement in their final three games against worthy, relevant opponents.

There are some important games to be played here. We play Pittsburgh, Ottawa could be our first round opponents in the playoffs, and Buffalo is fighting to get into the playoffs, said Julien. We have to take care of our business, but we have to think it through before we make those decisions.

Unlike a team like the Sabres, the Bruins have the benefit of getting a little rest and relaxation with nine days until the Stanley Cup postseason journey begins for the Black and Gold.

The Bruins have done a magnificent job finding pockets of rest where they could during the regular season, and they would be wise to continue with their big moment just around the corner.

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while it’s all happening around the NHL world ahead of tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eric Engels says that a torturous February shows that nothing will come easy for the Montreal Canadiens.

*Some raw locker room video from the Florida Panthers with local D-man Keith Yandle holding court with reporters.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has some early thoughts, and some praise, for the Washington Capitals landing puck-moving D-man and big ticket rental player Kevin Shattenkirk.

*The Toronto Maple Leafs up their playoff cred by landing gritty, big third-line center Brian Boyle ahead of the trade deadline.

*Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the city of Chicago’s longest-tenured teammates having spent the last 12 years together with the Blackhawks.

*Patrice Bergeron and Toucher and Rich are getting together for their 10th annual Cuts for a Cause, which will be on March 27.

https://www.nhl.com/bruins/community/cuts-for-a-cause

*For something completely different: Jimmy Kimmel gives his perspective of the debacle that went down at the end of the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-jimmy-kimmel-on-oscars-best-picture-award-mistake-w469552