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Billington gets top billing (12/31/95)



Billington gets the top billing
Kevin Paul Dupont, Globe Staff


WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Billington, Billington and more Billington.

Until further notice, that appears to be the Bruins' one-man-for-one-net strategy for the rest of '95 -- also known as today's game here vs. the Jets -- and probably a good chunk of '96.

"I don't want to keep rehashing our goaltending situation," said coach Steve Kasper, his club on a 4-0-1 roll, "but your goaltender should give you the opportunity to win -- and Craig Billington has been doing that for us."

It doesn't take much reading between the lines to figure out that Blaine Lacher will remain Billington's understudy for as long as Billington keeps bricking up the net. Utilized as a backup for much of his career, Billington has emerged as the designated workhorse on a team desperately in need of finding a cork for its 24-square-foot black hole.

"It's not unprecedented in today's hockey to keep going with one guy -- look at Grant Fuhr in St. Louis," said Kasper. "And over the years, there have been guys who've played tons of games -- Bernie Parent in Philadelphia, Ken Dryden in Montreal, Eddie Johnston in Boston. A lot of goalies like that kind of work. And when you think about it, why should a goalie be any more tired after a game than, say, a defenseman who's played hard a whole game?

"If I get to a point where it looks like Craig is tired, and he's not able to do the job, then I wouldn't have any trouble putting Blaine in there. But, right now, I don't see any reason to mess with what we've got."

For his part, Billington is enjoying the heavy workload.

"The most important thing, though, is believing in yourself," he said. "Take all your work and all your practice and all your technique, and then attach the belief you have in yourself, and then you've got something. Conversely, without the belief, you've got nothing."


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