Are you ready? The Bruins are.
In the hours leading up to their matchup with the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden at 7:00 p.m., the players were impatiently awaiting Game No. 1 of the journey.
“It’s the best,” David Krejci smiled following the B’s pregame skate on Thursday morning. “Opening night, it’s the best. Looking forward to it, looking forward also for the fans, to feed off their energy, it’s going to be awesome — it’s going to be a fun night.”
“Really excited,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Every year — it doesn’t get old, to start the season, especially at home in front of our fans.”
The atmosphere around the team has been optimistic since the first day of training camp. With three weeks of preseason action in the past, it’s finally time for the Black & Gold to display its pride on the ice.
“Everybody’s excited,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “When you go through training camp and play those preseason games and finally at the end of the preseason, you still you’re still here and you’ve got an opportunity to play for this organization, I think it’s great for the players, it’s great for us as coaches to get the season started.”
“Now we want to get the show on the road, and it’s going to be an exciting night for everybody.”
With newcomers, young players and veterans integrated into the group, the 2015-16 Bruins have been formed.
“I feel like this group came a long way since the first day of training camp and we all get along pretty well in the dressing room,” said Krejci. “And on the ice, obviously we’re still working on some things, but overall, I think we’re going the right direction and we’ll see how the game goes. We’re ready to go.”
David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Ryan Spooner, Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman are all young players being called upon to have greater roles this season, after being integrated into the group last season.
New Bruins Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Joonas Kemppainen and Matt Irwin have fit in well with the team, mixing with veterans Bergeron, Krejci, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller.
When Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are healthy, they will make an impact. Max Talbot and Tyler Randell provide flexibility for a rotating fourth line, along with strong work ethic that will continue pushing the rest of the forward group.
No matter who is in the lineup, the Bruins are looking to forge their identity from the first drop of the puck.
“First of all, [we’ll be] a hard-working team that shows up every night and plays for the whole 60 minutes, something that was missing last year,” Bergeron said. “And a character team — that’s definitely what you’ve got to be all about, is showing up and making sure to show some character and stick up for another another and being a tight-knit group.”
If Beleskey has learned anything from this group so far, it’s that hard work is at the forefront.
“That’s been something that’s been said from Day 1 — you watch Zee, you watch Bergy, you watch Marchy, you watch the way they work — they work extremely hard off the ice and on the ice,” said Beleskey. “And that’s what we’re trying to bring to the table.”
“You need to compete every shift — if one guy takes any time off, it’s noticeable, so that’s something we’re really focusing on.”
The Bruins will also be expected to be more aggressive, to attack the opponent with speed in transition, and to pick up the pace of their game.
Above all, they will be expected to play as one unit.
“That’s most important thing, and the toughest thing to accomplish in a game, in a team sport — you have to put your egos aside and try to play for your teammates,” said Tuukka Rask, who will resume his role as Boston’s last line of defense.
“It’s not always easily, especially when things aren’t going well — it tends to be even more difficult — but I think in this training camp, we had a great group of guys and everybody’s felt comfortable coming in here and doing their own thing and doing it together.”
“So I feel great about going into this season. We have a great group of guys.”
“It’s just about going out there — have some pride in trying to do a good job and trying to accomplish what maybe people don’t think we can accomplish,” said Julien. “That’s the challenge that we have this year and I’m looking forward to that.”
The predications and polls are out — with fans, reporters and everyone on the outside weighing in. These 2015-16 Bruins have already been written off by some.
“We’re trying not to worry about what people think on the outside — it’s about us gelling and getting better as a team and getting to know each other better each and every day with the new guys coming in, new faces and motivation,” said Bergeron. “And maybe flying under the radar is not necessarily a bad thing once in a while.”
“I think after a year where it was disappointing, the way it ended, I think it’s nice to come in and regroup and kind of refocus and make sure that we kind of generate our own energy. Some of the pressure is not necessarily as much on us this year. It could be a positive out of that.”
“We can just go about our business, keep improving and getting better as a team, and do some damage down the road.”