AntonKhudobin

Goalie nods: ‘Canes go back to Khudobin; Budaj, Harding get first starts

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News and notes from the crease…

Carolina rolls with Anton

Interesting development out of Washington as the ‘Canes will start Anton Khudobin against the Caps in a Metropolitan Division matchup.

It’ll mark the second time Khudobin has started in four games and, perhaps even more interestingly, the move has created a goaltending rotation to start the year. Cam Ward started the season opener (3-2 OT loss to Detroit), then Khudobin started the second game, a 2-1 win over Philly.

Ward was back in goal on Tuesday, a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh. ‘Canes head coach Kirk Muller said the decision to start Khudobin against Washington has nothing to do with Ward allowing five goals on 37 shots against the Pens.

“It was the tentative plan before (the season) started for the first few games,” Muller told the Raleigh News & Observer. “Despite the results of the game the other night we were going with (Khudobin).

“Hopefully he can carry on the way he did last game.”

This’ll be an interesting battle to follow, if only for the disparity in salaries. Ward carries a $6.3 million cap hit while Khudobin signed with Carolina this summer on a one-year deal worth $800,000.

Budaj in for Habs

Montreal’s Peter Budaj will make his 2013-14 debut on Thursday against Edmonton.

Budaj, 31, is coming off a solid 2013 campaign, one in which he posted an 8-1-1 record with a 2.29 GAA and .908 save percentage in relief of Carey Price.

The former Colorado ‘tender is one of the league’s more intriguing backups. Price has struggled with his form in recent seasons and isn’t off to a tremendous start this year, going just 1-2-0 with a 2.70 GAA and .907 save percentage.

Harding replaces Backstrom

Josh Harding will make his first start of the season tonight against Winnipeg.

Harding, 29, came on in relief of injured starter Niklas Backstrom during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Nashville and played well, stopping 19 of 20 shots.

Darcy Kuemper, the club’s young goaltending prospect from AHL Iowa, has been recalled to back up Harding against the Jets.

Elsewhere…

— Jonathan Bernier gets a second straight start for Toronto on Thursday against Nashville.

Jacob Markstrom’s in for Florida against Tampa Bay, as Tim Thomas is out with a groin injury.

— Jets backup Al Montoya will get a game soon, possibly tonight against the Wild.

— The goalie rotation continues in Anaheim as the Ducks will go back to Jonas Hiller tonight against the Rangers.

Rangers get good news on McDonagh, bad news on Nash

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Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.

Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.

The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.

McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).

The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.

McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.

The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.

Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.

He’ll miss at least another week.

Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
Associated Press
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Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

Can they top that? Time will tell.

Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.