BOSTON – Anton Khudobin is feeling energized as he makes his way through the 2017-18 preseason.
After a summer of workouts, training camp has him ready to go for the regular season.
“To be honest, you have a lot of energy, you have a lot of power in your body, and you actually don’t want to have that, because it’s just pushing you too much,” Anton Khudobin smiled, after an hour skate at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning.
“And you kind of want to get in that rhythm, but at the start of the season, that’s why we’re playing games right now and practicing, to get in that rhythm,” said Khudobin. “But it’s always fun. Opening night is very emotional, like you’re pretty much playing your first NHL game.”
Khudobin didn’t enjoy the way he started the 2016-17 season, coming back into the organization after being away for three seasons with Carolina and Anaheim. He started slow, and eventually found his game in the second half of the season.
“I don’t think I played bad. I thought I played good. We just, I just couldn’t win. That’s the main reason,” said Khudobin. “You know, even when you’re winning 6-5, you have five goals against on 20 shots, nobody talks about those five goals; everybody talks about the win, so same as that, I don’t remember how many games I played at the start – I just didn’t win.”
“And there was a lot of talks, and maybe pressure, whatever, so of course I want to play better every single game. Play even better than I finished the season. But there’s going to be some stretches and up and downs, so you have to go through them.”
Through the up-and-down experience last season, Khudobin learned how to embody a better approach.
“That stress that I put on myself, and I was hearing everything, and was like, ‘What’s going on?trying to figure it out,” said Khudobin. “Maybe just say ‘whatever’s going to be, just let it be,’ and that’s the main thing.”
The netminder feels ready to take on whatever challenges come his way this season – and play in as many games as he can.
“The more I’m playing, it’s much, much better for me, but I know my role – I’m backup here, so whenever the coach decides to put me in, will be great,” said Khudobin. “If not, then I just have to wait for it. If it’s going to be more often than last year, awesome. If not, then I just have to go through practice and extra work, and get into games.”
“I try to control what I can control and I’m focusing on my game. I’m focusing on practices, how to get ready, how to get ready for the practices and for the games, and at the same time, I’m a veteran player, so help the young guys, so that’s what I’m doing.”
Head Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed media following the Bruins’ two practice sessions on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.
Though the news has yet to be announced, the training camp roster is expected to be reduced by Monday.
“We’ll definitely have a smaller group moving forward,” said Cassidy.
The Bruins next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at TD Garden for their fifth preseason game, and final home game before opening night on Oct. 5.
Through the first four games, Cassidy and the Bruins’ staff have been evaluating the young players both up front and on the back end as they push for roster spots.
“There’s a lot of them, so we’re hoping some will separate themselves, and we’re seeing some of that,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy highlighted Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jesse Gabrielle having all stuck out at times during camp.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson hasn’t gotten as much of an opportunity because of his upper body injury, but he did skate with the team on Monday, so Cassidy included him in the mix as well. Cassidy also mentioned more experienced players like Sean Kuraly and Austin Czarnik.
On the back end, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Rob O’Gara are all getting looks. Cassidy said that O’Gara has been the most consistent in his all-around game. Charlie McAvoy is leading the way and has started to be paired with Kevan Miller.
“We didn’t expect anybody to come in necessarily on the back end and dominate; we want a guy to play well, be consistent, and slowly get better,” said Cassidy. “And one of them will have to do that, particularly with Torey [Krug] out [for three weeks]. If there’s more than that pushing the group, then we’ll see how it plays out.”