Boston’s newest ‘JFK’ — Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson — could make the jump from Comm. Ave to Causeway St. a little sooner than anticipated, according to a report from the Red Line Report’s Kirk Luedeke.

Boston’s newest ‘JFK’ — Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson — could make the jump from Comm. Ave to Causeway St. a little sooner than anticipated, according to a report from the Red Line Report’s Kirk Luedeke.

On his latest post on his personal blog, Luedeke writes that Forsbacka-Karlsson, a second-round draft pick (45th overall) in 2015, is leaning towards turning pro once his sophomore season with the Boston University Terriers comes to close.

This was something Bruins general manager Don Sweeney hinted at during his trade deadline press conference.

“We have college kids that may decide [to go pro] and make that decision a little easier,” Sweeney said of the organization’s collegiate prospects. “Those are case by case situations. But we do have some players that we’re going to make decisions on or they’re gonna make decisions in the coming weeks. And we have flexibility to be able to do that — to add those players contractually and bring them into the fold if that’s what we decide to do and that’s what they decide to do.”

Masked by the hype of Terriers teammate and fellow Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy, Forsbacka-Karlsson has been compared to Patrice Bergeron for his defensive instincts as a centerman, and his ability to get the job done in all three zones of the rink. That has been the case since he first joined the Terriers, and came through in his last game, as Forsbacka-Karlsson was a standout in BU’s Game 2 win over Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals last weekend.

“He was huge,” BU coach David Quinn said of Forsbacka Karlsson. “He’s been a little snakebitten in the point department, but when we needed him most, he stood tall. … Jakob not only had three points, but he played well for 200 feet.”

A Stockholm, Swe. native, the 6-foot-1 forward has 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games with BU since 2015.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Bruins prospect Anders Bjork has been named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Bruins prospect Anders Bjork has been named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Bruins prospect Anders Bjork has been on fire all year long, and has been properly recognized for his accomplishments with the word that Bjork is among the 10 finalists for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award.

In his junior season with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the 20-year-old Bjork has recorded 19 goals and 47 points in just 35 games for the Irish. Those 47 points are not only a career-high for Bjork, but also rank as the sixth-most in Hockey East and 11th-most in the country.

The Wisconsin-born Bjork currently ranks 46th on the Irish’s all-time scoring list, with 104 points in 111 games, and became the first player to record 100 career points by his junior year since T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee accomplished the feat in 2013, according to Notre Dame.

A fifth-round draft pick (146th overall) in 2014, Bjork’s team will skate at TD Garden this weekend as they compete against UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East semifinals on Friday, Mar. 17 at 5 p.m.

It’s believed that the Bruins will make a significant push to get Bjork signed this summer.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Anton Khudobin will start Wednesday against the Flames. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will start Wednesday against the Flames. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Set to kick off the first of three back-to-backs remaining on their 13-game slate to finish the season, Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy will turn to Anton Khudobin tonight against the Flames.

Confirmed as the starter following Tuesday’s optional skate at Corral Arena in Calgary, Khudobin’s start against the Flames means that Tuukka Rask will get the call Thursday night against the Oilers.

As detailed on Tuesday, the importance of Cassidy successfully managing each goalie’s workload to finish out the season remains a key for the Black and Gold, even in the middle of a playoff race, and this decision was probably a lot easier than it looks on paper.

There’s no way around saying that the Flames are and have been a complete buzzsaw of late, with a franchise-record 10 straight victories, including a shootout win over the defending Stanley Cup winning Penguins on Monday night.

They’re one of just a few teams that have been hotter than the B’s since Feb. 7 (when they B’s replaced Claude Julien with Cassidy), as the Flames are 12-1-1 compared to the B’s 11-3-0 mark over that span. And the Flames have doubled up their opponents of late, having outscored their opponents 37-to-18 over the course of their current win streak.

So, it appears Khudobin and the Bruins are up against it. And the 30-year-old’s last performance — a 15-of-17 win against the Devils on Mar. 4 — looks far from inspiring. But Cassidy looked beyond the seemingly ugly two goals on 17 shots stat line.

“His game was good. At the end of the day, they were high-end chances that they scored on,” Cassidy said of Khudobin in his postgame availability back on Mar. 4. “He did his job, you know, he hung in there, he made saves when he had to and he got the win for it so I’m sure he’s happy. It was a tough first half of the year for him and he’s kind of found his game here a little bit and we’ve talked about it – it’s well documented. We need him, we need him to be good, give us a chance to win.”

Khudobin also started the B’s last head-to-head against the Flames, and made 27 stops in a 2-1 Black Friday loss.

With Brian Elliott under the weather, Chad Johnson gets the start opposite Khudobin. Johnson put together a 35-of-36 night against the Bruins in his last start against his former club, and enters play with 18 wins and a .913 save percentage in 33 games.

The Bruins have not won in Calgary since Dec. 2013, and have two just two wins in nine games in Calgary since 1999.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Bruins forward Ryan Spooner has been seen around the rink and even on the ice since suffering a concussion last week against the Senators.

That on its own is a good sign for the Bruins.

Ryan Spooner could be back in the lineup on Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center Ryan Spooner (concussion) could be back in the lineup on Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Ryan Spooner has been seen around the rink and even on the ice since suffering a concussion last week against the Senators.

That on its own is a good sign for the Bruins.

Remember, David Backes was told to not look at screens or even come to the rink during the worst and early days of his concussion recovery. Spooner continued to progress when he traveled to Western Canada with the rest of his teammates. That progression took its next and perhaps last step at an optional skate on Tuesday morning, as Spooner was on the ice and working out with his teammates in hopes of maybe playing in Wednesday’s head-to-head with the white-hot Flames.

“He went through the last part of his [concussion] protocol,” said Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy when asked about Spooner’s status. “We’re cautiously optimistic if he comes out of [Tuesday]’s skate and he’s fine, then he’ll probably play [Wednesday].”

Back in his natural center position under Cassidy, the 25-year-old Spooner has returned to form of late, with three goals and seven points in 11 Cassidy-coached contests, and will return to that spot if he does indeed play on Wednesday, according to Cassidy. Who that would leave on the outs remains something Cassidy will think about that until then, too.

“He would go back in as the third line center, so we’d move [Riley] Nash to the wing on the third or fourth line, we’ll make that decision tomorrow,” Cassidy, who has regularly featured a revolving door of ice-time among his bottom-six forwards, noted. “Until he’s ready to go and he tells me he’s back in, then I don’t want to speculate who would come out.”

The 5-foot-10 Spooner has tallied 11 goals and 34 points in 65 games for the Black and Gold this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins are 11-3-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)Let me finally say it: I was wrong. So very, incredibly wrong. 



The Bruins will need to balance Tuukka Rask's games out over the next month. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will need to balance Tuukka Rask’s games out over the next month. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are without question getting their money’s worth out of ace goaltender Tuukka Rask this season.

In what was his 55th start of the season on Monday night against the Canucks, Rask stopped 26-of-29 shots in a 6-3 final and improved to 33-16-4 with a .914 save percentage on the year.

The 55 starts currently sits as the second-most in the NHL — Rask is tied with the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen and San Jose’s Martin Jones at 55, while the Oilers’ Cam Talbot leads the league with 61 starts in net (what!) –and Rask has logged the fifth-most minutes in net among NHL goaltenders this season, at just under 3,200 minutes thus far.

At this current rate, Rask is expected to eclipse the 60-start mark by the end of March too, which is something he did not do last season (58 starts, but 60 appearances overall), but something that did happen in 2014-15, with 62 starts (and 65 appearances overall).

Rask, who celebrated his 30th birthday last week, was gifted more time in the crease on both his 28th and 29th birthday from then-coach Claude Julien, and if there’s one thing that Rask did not need to unwrap the big 3-0, it’s more starts and on limited rest. His new gifter, B’s interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, is more than aware of that, too, but finds himself in a similar spot.

“Well, we’re focused on March, I’m not going to lie to you,” Cassidy said last week when asked of managing Rask’s workload.

“There is a plan in place at the start of the year. Not every game, but generally speaking, the number of games,” he continued. “Our goalie coach goes through, Goalie coach Bob [Essensa] with Tuukka [Rask] and management, and now me, and we’re trying to get him at a level that he’s comfortable and still get him in the net for what we feel is the proper number of games.”

But it’s also worth noting that Cassidy has managed Rask’s workload perfectly since taking over for Claude Julien. Rask has yet to start back-to-back games under Cassidy, which is something he did two times under Julien this season, and 14 times total since the start of the 2014-15 season. Cassidy has not been afraid to turn to Anton Khudobin, even with Khudobin’s early season struggles, and has been rewarded with eight wins and a .926 save percentage in 11 Rask starts since the coaching change. Khudobin has been solid since the move, too, with three wins and a .922 save percentage in three starts for the Black and Gold.

A key for a team that’s yet to suffer consecutive losses under Cassidy, it seems as if their goaltenders have been pushed just right and not too far (or alienated in the case of the backup), which seemed to be a late-season problem in back-to-back seasons.

“You’ve seen it twice with Dobby [Anton Khudobin] and now Tuukka [Rask],” Cassidy said of his team bouncing back after tough losses with strong goaltending performances. “So that’s good that our goaltenders want to take it personally as well, that they want to get back in the win column. Because it generally starts there.”

Cassidy will need to find a way for them to remain on for the final 13 games of the season.

The Bruins have three remaining sets of back-to-backs (and all three are traveling back-to-backs, which are taxing on their own) — this week against the Flames and Oilers, the week after that against the Maple Leafs and Senators, and in April with the Panthers and Blackhawks — and you simply can’t commit to the idea of Rask starting in all of those back-to-back scenarios. Maybe you can do it when the B’s play the Leafs and Sens back-to-back next week thanks to three off days before they begin that two-day grind, but even then, you’re talking about at least three high stakes games (assuming Khudobin starts one of these upcoming two games) — and against more-than-capable offensive attacks — in less than a week’s time for Rask.

And of course you understand that the Bruins pay Rask $7 million a season for him to start those games, but your $7 million goalie won’t be much good if he’s gassed by April. This is something that the Rangers learned the hard way in the early years of Henrik Lundqvist (before the Rangers were the juggernaut they are today), the Flames with Miikka Kiprusoff before that, and the examples go on beyond just those two names. It’s just an impossible workload as the recent history of Cup-winning goaltenders can tell you. In the last 10 full NHL seasons (basically every season except the lockout-delayed 2013 campaign which was just 48 games long) only two goaltenders have played in over 60 games during the regular season and gone on to win the Cup for their team, the Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury in 2009 (62 games) and Jonathan Quick (69 games) for the Kings in 2012.

At the same time, it goes without saying that the Bruins have to actually get into the playoffs (something they have not done since 2014’s Presidents’ Trophy season) before you start looking at Cup-winning goalies and applying it as a benchmark for games started by Rask to finish the year, but the B’s won’t get even close to that hypothetical if it’s not with a healthy, rested Rask in net. And with eight of the club’s 13 remaining games against teams currently inside the playoff structure, the Bruins are going to need to find starts for Khudobin to shine, if only to keep Rask fresh for the next do-or-die game the team will come across.

Something Cassidy, back in charge of an NHL team for the first time in over 13 years, knows.

“If they’re on, then we have a chance to win,” Cassidy said.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask recorded the 200th win of his NHL career on Monday. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask recorded the 200th win of his NHL career on Monday. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)

It’s been almost a decade since Tuukka Rask burst onto the scene as the Black and Gold’s goalie of the future. It’s starting to show, too.

In what was the 385th game of his NHL career, the 30-year-old Rask made stops on 26-of-29 shots thrown his way in a 6-3 final over the Canucks, and collected the 200th win of his NHL career in the process.

It’s a milestone that’s probably snuck up on you, as Rask has only been the team’s true No. 1 starter since the lockout-delayed 2013 season, and has only skated as a full-time NHLer since the 2009-10 season.

The Finnish-born netminder recorded his first NHL victory in 2007, and he is one of 13 netminders to have recorded 200 victories since the start of that season. Rask has the best save percentage among those 13 goalies, too, as his .923 save percentage since 2007 is .003 better than Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price, who are tied for second at .920.

On a Bruins focused note, the 200-win plateau is that has been met by just three other B’s netminder in franchise history, the latest being Gerry Cheevers in 1978-79, and Frank Brimsek and Tiny Thompson being the other two. Cheevers sits at 229 wins in a Bruins uniform, Brimsek has 230, and Thompson has a franchise-best 252 victories.

Rask has 33 wins and a .914 save percentage in 55 games for the Bruins this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Games in Vancouver seem to bring the best out of Brad Marchand.