Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Goalie door spins again

MacDonald is latest backup

In Detroit, Joey MacDonald literally had to share the net.

During practice, with Dominik Hasek patrolling one cage, MacDonald split time in the other net with Chris Osgood, hitting the ice early and staying late to get in his work. Whenever Osgood started, MacDonald would be the backup, keeping Hasek and his iffy groin from entering games midway.

MacDonald, who skated with the Bruins for the first time yesterday morning after being claimed on waivers Saturday, said he was happy to come to Boston, where he'll serve as the No. 2 goalie behind Tim Thomas.

"I knew my role coming into the year," said MacDonald, who was still wearing his red Detroit mask and pads. "I knew what expectations I had. Osgood was out and missed some games with a couple hand problems, so I got an opportunity. I got a little taste of it."

MacDonald (1-5-1, 3.46 goals-against average, .872 save percentage) will wear No. 31 and should get some spot starts to give Thomas a break. Thomas has started the last 13 games in a row.

Meanwhile, Hannu Toivonen, assigned to Providence Sunday, was scheduled to practice with the P-Bruins tomorrow, according to coach Scott Gordon. On Saturday, Toivonen, who hasn't started a game for the Bruins since Jan. 30, stopped 29 of 33 shots in two periods of relief against the Florida Panthers.

"We have to develop Hannu into the goalie we think he can be," said Bruins coach Dave Lewis, who's familiar with MacDonald from his days in Detroit. "Hannu hadn't played a lot, partly by my decision and partly by some of the things we had observed. For him to get better, he has to play.

"He's young [22]. There are growing pains, and right now Hannu's going through growing pains. It's frustrating for him, and we sense that watching him in practice. I think overall for him and his career, this is the best way to go."

Toivonen has played nine games for the P-Bruins this season, going 3-6-0 with a 2.82 GAA and an .892 save percentage. In January, Toivonen was assigned to Providence twice and recalled for good Jan. 8 until his most recent demotion.

Asked if a longer Providence stint may have helped, Toivonen's agent, Bill Zito, said, "That's a tough one. You have to address who was the real Hannu Toivonen -- the kid from the last four years or the kid from this year? If it was the kid from this year, what was causing the inconsistency in his play? Was it something he did? The situation that was dealt to him? A combination of everything? If you take a kid like that and send him down for an extended period of time, you just don't know."

Kobasew skates
Chuck Kobasew, who was acquired from Calgary Feb. 10, has been working out in Wilmington with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides the past week, and skated with teammates for the first time yesterday. "When you get traded, obviously you're a bit surprised by it," said Kobasew, who'll wear No. 12. "But coming here, it's a great city, a great organization. I know a bunch of the guys already, and the guys I met today are good guys. So I'm really looking forward to it." Kobasew, who has been sidelined by an elbow injury since Jan. 26, hasn't been cleared for contact . . . The Bruins started Saturday's game with 11 forwards, then lost another when Phil Kessel twisted his right knee. But they got good news yesterday, as they had a full -- if not totally healthy -- corps of forwards. Kessel, who caught a rut in the ice, said his knee still hurt a little bit yesterday morning but he was ready to play. Shean Donovan missed his first game of the year Saturday after taking a puck off the ankle the night before. Because of swelling, Donovan couldn't play against Florida, but he felt better yesterday. Andrew Alberts sat out three straight games because of a hamstring injury he suffered last Monday against Philadelphia. But he returned to the lineup, too.

Taking it slow
Glen Murray, who aggravated a groin injury last Monday, skated for the first time in a week yesterday but didn't play last night. Murray, who missed his fourth straight game, is being cautious about his return. "I don't want to come back for two and then be out for four or five," said Murray, who's eligible to come off injured reserve today. "I want to make sure." . . . Petr Tenkrat (sprained right ankle) didn't play last night. Tenkrat planned to skate in practice today . . . Keith Tkachuk, wearing No. 8 in tribute to Cam Neely (defenseman Greg de Vries wears No. 7 for Atlanta), made his Thrashers debut last night after being traded from St. Louis Sunday. "It's an exciting time," Tkachuk said. "We're in crunch time now. We've got a chance to win the division, so that's my goal." Tkachuk (two shots) didn't score, but defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, acquired from Philadelphia, assisted on Atlanta's first goal. "Two huge veteran additions that are important players in the league," said Lewis.

Defenses down
The Bruins blocked only six shots last night, the fewest since they recorded six in a 4-3 win over the Islanders Feb. 10 . . . Brandon Bochenski, who had been the right wing on Boston's No. 2 line during the road trip, was dropped to the fourth line. Kessel, who had been the No. 2 center, played right wing on the top line . . . Marc Savard (9 points in four games last week) was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week . . . A league source confirmed Marco Sturm's new contract terms at four years, $14 million . . . P.J. Axelsson turned 32 yesterday.