SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN - With a 5-0 shutout of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at Credit Union Centre, the Bruins head into the regular season with a clean slate, but with the confidence of a 6-1 record.
While there isn't too much stock put in preseason games, the record is at least a confidence boost heading into the regular season, which kicks off for the B's on October 3 at TD Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"But it's nice. Our team has obviously responded in these preseason games; I think, overall, we've played decent," said Head Coach Claude Julien following the win.
Carl Soderberg opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the first period to begin a fairly dominant night for the Bruins, banging in a rebound from Reilly Smith's shot off the crossbar. It marked Soderberg's third goal of the preseason.
"He's a big body, he's a big strong player and really gets in the right spots a lot," said Julien. "And you look at the goals he scored, he's right in there in front of the net. All of his goals are about going to the net and finding those loose pucks, so he's done a good job."
Johnny Boychuk added his blast from the right point and just inside the blueline off a bank pass from Milan Lucic in the corner at 5:46 into the first period for a swift 2-0 lead.
Ryan Spooner earned the second assist, following work with Lucic behind the goal, before cycling and crossing path with Jarome Iginla.
With both Jordan Caron and Nick Johnson in the lineup and competing for spots on the roster, they didn't make the B's decision any easier. Both combined for two goals, skating with Gregory Campbell as their centerman.
Caron's came with 7:08 left in the second period, banging a rebound into a near-empty net after Jets' netminder Al Montoya was found out of position after an initial stop.
Johnson make it 4-0 at 7:44 into the third, ringing a blast off the crossbar and in from just above the high slot. Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski earned the assists, with the trio stacked a crossed the top of the blueline.
"I thought they played well and even as a line, they did a good job," said Julien, of the Caron and Johnson playing on Gregory Campbell's wings for the night. Their forechecking was strong, and led two Caron's goal.
"When there's a battle going on like that you like to see those guys respond the way the did."
Patrice Bergeron capped the 5-0 win with 2:41 to go in the final frame, as he and Loui Eriksson had a give-and-go before No. 37 snapped it inside the left post from the bottom of the right circle.
Brad Marchand also earned an assist, making it the first time the trio combined for the stat line together. For a line that has a strong forecheck, but has been a touch off with offensively timing, it was a great sign.
Tuukka, Team Tuned Up
After nearly three weeks of preseason and training camp, these Bruins look just about in tune for the regular season, including Tuukka Rask.
There had been some question if he would start, given the backup battle behind him, but he played the full 60, and looked sharp.
"Well, it doesn't really matter; as long as you just try to feel good out there. It doesn't matter if you're playing 40 or 60, but it's always good to play the game, get the win," said the netminder following the shutout, in which he made 20 saves.
"It was nice to see that he got more than 12 shots; that's what he wanted in a situation like that where he gets some shots and he gets some game situations, and that's what he got," said Julien. "He seemed very poised; he made a couple big saves, of course that save where it looked like a sure goal."
That would be when the Bruins had a 3-0 lead, and James Wright sent a cross-ice pass to Olli Jokinen off a 2-on-1 rush. Rask quickly slid left to right, making a terrific stop.
"So, he seems to be in top form."
"It's the last preseason game and you want to go in feeling good as a team and have good habits," the always smiling Jarome Iginla said following the win. "I think we did that. I think a lot of guys played hard and did a lot of good things."
"We had a good PK. Tuukks was great in net, some huge stops. Bergy's line was really, you know, you name the lines, Smitty [Reilly Smith] had a great game, Kells. So if guys go in feeling good, that's the goal and doing a lot of things."
"And now, we just want to get started."