Khudobin ready to fill void
Goalie’s status hinges on Rask’s recovery
On Tuesday, Anton Khudobin stepped onto TD Garden ice for the first time this season as a full-fledged Bruin, serving as Marty Turco’s backup. Had luck gone Khudobin’s way last month, he would have made his 2011-12 season debut far sooner.
On March 3, Tuukka Rask suffered a lower abdomen/groin strain. As Providence’s No. 1 goalie, Khudobin should have been recalled immediately to back up Tim Thomas and see some NHL action. But on Feb. 25, Khudobin suffered an injury of his own.
During a game against Bridgeport, Khudobin injured his wrist while trying to fling away a puck. Instead of being promoted to Boston, Khudobin was shelved for nearly a month. Khudobin didn’t play again until March 23 against Manchester.
“Of course. I’ve been waiting for this call,’’ said Khudobin when asked if he were frustrated with the timing of his injury. “I’m really happy to be here. I just was getting ready there. I was getting practice and games. Playing good and playing well.’’
Khudobin served as the No. 3 goalie during last year’s playoff run. When the Bruins opted to rest Thomas, Khudobin stepped in to be a go-to practice goalie.
The current role for Khudobin (pronounced who-doe-bin) hinges on Rask’s condition. The Bruins projected Rask would miss 4-6 weeks, most likely closer to the latter. Given that timeframe, Rask would not have been available to dress as Thomas’s backup to start the first round.
But Rask is progressing ahead of schedule. He has been ramping up his off-ice workouts and is expected to resume skating this week. If Rask can get back to NHL form - at playoff pace, no less - he could be in uniform for Game 1 of the playoffs.
If Rask isn’t ready, that task will fall to Khudobin. Turco is not eligible for postseason play, having signed his one-year contract after the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
“We’ve got to see where Tuukka is,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “If Tuukka’s not ready, then Anton’s got to be ready because Marty can’t play in the playoffs. That’s clear to us. That’s clear to [Khudobin]. The way Tuukka’s going right now, he’s heading in the right direction. Where we’re going to be in a week and a half, I really don’t know.’’
With Rask’s uncertain status, Khudobin most likely will get some action. Thomas, out of uniform against Pittsburgh, could get the nod on Thursday against Ottawa, the Bruins’ most likely first-round opponent. Khudobin’s best opportunity would be Saturday’s regular-season finale against Buffalo. The Bruins are locked in to the No. 2 seed.
“Tuukka’s maybe getting ready to play. Maybe not,’’ Khudobin said. “I’m doing my job right now and practicing every day. Today, I had practice. Game, tomorrow practice. I’m just living every day.’’
McQuaid feeling better
Adam McQuaid missed his third straight game because of a cut over his left eye suffered March 27, when Jason Chimera steamrolled the defenseman into the end boards.
McQuaid participated in Tuesday’s morning skate wearing a shield. He usually plays without a visor.
“I’m feeling pretty good,’’ McQuaid said. “Every day’s getting better and better. The last couple days have been a big difference just in my eye and the swelling. A couple days, it was swollen shut there. It’s coming around good.’’
McQuaid assumed some of the responsibility for Chimera’s hit. McQuaid had tracked down a puck along the wall, then attempted to reverse the puck and turned just as Chimera connected with his hit.
“It’s over and done with. You move on from it,’’ McQuaid said. “I probably didn’t help the situation with the way I kind of turned. He was coming in with a lot of speed and on a change. There wasn’t much of a holdup. I was reading him coming in at more of an angle than coming on straight down. Just move on.’’
The Bruins will travel to Ottawa Wednesday afternoon and take on the Senators Thursday. It could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.
However, the Bruins have not determined whether they will feature their top guns. In the wake of Johnny Boychuk’s leg injury, the Bruins could opt to leave some of their lead dogs at home to give them some rest.
“We can either go there, bring your A team, and say, ‘OK, let’s make a statement here,’ ’’Julien said. “Or you can risk injuries and not have that same statement when the playoffs start. Or you can go about it the other way, too. It doesn’t mean you don’t go there, play hard, and make a statement. But the team we will bring there is something we can decide on whether we want to bring our full squad, or leave some guys behind. That’s something we’ll certainly do before we leave tomorrow.’’
Tyler Seguin was given the NESN Seventh Player Award . . . Jordan Caron didn’t play because of flu-like symptoms . . . Gregory Campbell was back in the lineup. He didn’t play against the Rangers. The day before, Campbell was hobbling after blocking a shot . . . Although Julien will rest players and reduce workloads in the remaining regular-season games, he is not intent on flushing away any of his team’s momentum. “We’re a team that, for two months, struggled to get consistency,’’ Julien said. “Now we’re starting to get it. We certainly don’t want to let it go. We want to keep playing as well as we can.’’