BOSTON - The Bruins appear to be quite ready for the real thing.
With five days until Opening Night, the Black & Gold cruised through the preseason finale, delivering an 8-2 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden to close out the exhibition slate at 4-0-2. David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk both notched hat tricks - and chipped in an assist apiece - and Torey Krug added three helpers, as Boston put on an offensive clinic against a Chicago team that was composed of mostly AHLers.
"Obviously, they had a lot of young guys and we spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, so it's good for us to create a lot of opportunity and get a little bit of confidence before the season," said Pastrnak. "But obviously Dallas is going to be on another level, especially at home…we have about five days to work on our game and we have to be ready for October."
"I think it's my first [hat trick] in like 10 years," added DeBrusk. "Didn't actually believe I'd get it, but definitely nice to contribute today. It wasn't their main squad, but they obviously competed and they have heart, so to be able to get the win in the way we did was a good way to end it."
Video: CHI@BOS: DeBrusk, Pastrnak each record hat tricks
Good to Go
Patrice Bergeron made his preseason debut, playing 12:47 in his lone dress rehearsal before Opening Night. The 34-year-old, who has been managing a groin injury throughout training camp, said postgame that he has no concerns about his status for Thursday's tilt against the Dallas Stars.
"Good to get the first one out of the way," said Bergeron. "It's always good to get back and get your legs underneath you and start getting your timing back and rhythm and everything. It was what I was expecting, and it was fine."
Video: Bergeron talks readiness for season
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to suggest after the game that Anders Bjork will begin the year in Providence in order to regain some of his scoring touch. Boston's bench boss has been pleased with Bjork's training camp, particularly his mental approach after another shoulder surgery last winger, but believes the winger could be better served with a bit more time in the AHL.
"He was drafted as a scoring winger," said Cassidy. "And he hasn't been able to do that consistently at the professional level, so we have to determine, is he going to be able to do it here? Or is he better served in Providence, finding that part of his game? What's going to be better for us in the long run? And do we need him here in the short term? That's what we balance.
"My guess is [Providence is] where he will probably end up starting, to work on that part of his game. He had a good training camp, good preseason. He's healthy, bigger, stronger, so that'll be just in my preliminary evaluation there, but we'll sit down again and go over it."
Karson Kuhlman, who scored in the preseason finale, has also made a strong impression on Cassidy, after bursting onto the scene late last season as a strong complement to DeBrusk and David Krejci on Boston's second line.
"I know he can play there. I've seen it," said Cassidy. "I haven't seen him with Krejci this particular preseason, but I'm comfortable with how we plays. We've just got to make the decision, what's best for the team. We've got some new players in here, Do they get a look first? So, we'll talk about all of that stuff. But to answer your question, yes. I like the way Kuhlman plays."
Video: Kuhlman speaks to media following 8-2 win over CHI
Cassidy said before the game that Krejci (lower body) and Joakim Nordstrom (foot) both skated lightly on Saturday morning and that the team "will see where they're at on Monday." After the game, Cassidy added that he believes Krejci will be good to go for Opening Night.
Matt Grzelcyk and David Backes were also held out of the preseason finale as healthy scratches. Cassidy was pleased with the way Grzelcyk played on Thursday night and did not feel that the blue liner needed another exhibition contest. Jakub Zboril, who Cassidy said has been the best of Boston's young left-shot defensemen through camp, got the call alongside Connor Clifton on the B's third pair.
Cassidy was also happy with the way Backes played on Monday and Wednesday (goal, two assists) and did not want the winger playing three games in one week at this stage of the year.
Video: Cassidy chats following 8-2 preseason win
Cassidy said that Tuukka Rask will start on Opening Night in Dallas, while Jaroslav Halak is likely to get the call for the second game of the season in Arizona. Rask - who is penciled in for 50-55 starts this season, per Cassidy - stopped 19 of 21 shots against the Blackhawks, while also adding an assist on Pastrnak's third goal.
Video: Pastrnak, DeBrusk each notch hat tricks, Bruins roll