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Dominic Moore hopes to help Bruins on PK, faceoffs

Boston looks to Anton Khudobin as answer at backup goalie behind Tuukka Rask

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- Dominic Moore went to Harvard and has lived in Boston in the offseason for several years.

But the veteran forward, who has played for nine teams (including two stints with the New York Rangers) since the 2003-04 season, said he never was close to joining the Boston Bruins before this summer.

Moore signed a one-year, $900,000 contract on Aug. 30 with the hope he can bring grit and stability to the Bruins' fourth line. The NHL journeyman also can scratch an accomplishment off his bucket list.

"It's a dream come true in a lot of ways to be here in Boston and to play for the B's," Moore said after taking part in an informal practice with more than a dozen of his new teammates at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday. "I'm really excited to get going," 

Moore said he talked to a few other teams this summer before signing with the Bruins. His familiarity with the area and comfort with general manager Don Sweeney, another Harvard alum, made the decision to come to Boston easy.

For the Bruins, Moore being left-handed made him an attractive option to play either center or wing in the bottom six. He also can help the Bruins penalty kill, which was inconsistent and finished 11th in the League (82.2 percent) last season.

Moore, 36, had six goals, 15 points and a 55.3 percent faceoff winning percentage in 80 games for the Rangers last season. He knows his role and how to fit in after bouncing around the NHL for so long.

"I think obviously at this point of my career hopefully [I can bring] some leadership and lead by example as well," Moore said. "I think we talked about versatility and trying to fill different things at different times, faceoffs and killing penalties. I pride myself on being a well-rounded player, and hopefully that adds an element to the team."

Despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, the Bruins impressed Moore with their consistent success prior to their recent postseason hiatus. 

Moore said he hopes he can help the Bruins return to the playoffs.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm5: Moore deflects goal past Murray

"The last couple of years they've been right there," he said. "The teams around this league, in and out of the playoffs, are very good. And the margins are very small. So hopefully that's something that I can help make a little bit of a margin there, and I'm excited to do that."

With Moore expected to add depth to Boston's forwards, the Bruins signed goaltender Anton Khudobin to a two-year, $2.4 million contract (average annual value $1.2 million) on July 1 to provide relief for No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask.  

Khudobin, a 30-year-old native of Kazakhstan, was in the Bruins organization for three seasons before he left as a free agent for the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2013. It sounds like he loves Boston even more than Moore.

"It's comfort level and everything," Khudobin said Tuesday. "I always had great conversations with players, with the coaches, with the management, no matter who it would be. When I flew here on Saturday, and I met my friends and we went on Sunday to downtown Boston, I couldn't believe I came back. It felt like I just came back from the season. It didn't feel like I haven't been here for three years. It's just a comfort level, the style of city, the people around here."

After two seasons mostly with Providence of the American Hockey League, Khudobin was Rask's primary backup in 2012-13 and went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. That performance earned him a chance to play more with the Hurricanes, and over two seasons, he went 27-31-7 with a 2.50 GAA and .914 save percentage in 70 games for Carolina.

Last season, Khudobin was stuck behind Frederik Andersen and John Gibson after being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. Khudobin had a 2.70 GAA and .909 save percentage in nine games for the Ducks, spending most of the season with San Diego of the American Hockey League.

Khudobin accepts that Rask will get most of the playing time. The Bruins want to give Rask more rest after he played 134 games over the past two seasons, so there will be plenty of opportunity to spell the undisputed No. 1 goalie this season. 

Khudobin, however, knows that with prospects Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre also in the mix, even the backup job isn't guaranteed.

"You always have to compete, no matter what position you play, no matter how big is your contract," Khudobin said. "You always have to compete, you always have to show what you're capable of doing --whatever you're doing, No. 1, No. 2, whatever. With our situation, if you know 100 percent you're No. 1, it's actually harder. So if you compete, it's always easier to show in the practices and the easier it's going to be in the games."

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