By John Bishop, BostonBruins.com
Boston – Despite a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers in their seventh and final preseason warm-up, the spirit of the Boston Bruins remained intact as the team filed in and out of the locker room early on Saturday evening at the TD Banknorth Garden.
As they prepared for their final few days of training camp en route to a five game road trip to start the NHL regular season, the Bruins had the real games in mind and refused to focus on any exhibition losses.
"I think the overall atmosphere is more positive [than last year]," explained Patrice Bergeron
in front of his locker post game. "We don't get discouraged when we are down by three.
"I think in the third period we came back and stuck with it. I think that's what we are going to do during the season."
The Bruins, who finish 4-3-0 on the exhibition docket, lost for the second straight game to the New York Rangers (now 5-2-0). However, Boston head coach Dave Lewis is confident that his charges will learn from their experiences during preseason and be better players for it.
"Actually, it was a great learning tool for us," said Lewis. "The Rangers have a tremendous power play and have great personnel. When you have guys like Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr at the top of the circle, shooting the puck, it's hard on everybody…I thought we did some things well, but not enough.
"Today will be a tool for us to teach from."
The Rangers led by Nigel Dawes, who had two goals, and Petr Pruchna, Jagr as well as Shanahan, who all had a goal and an assist, overwhelmed the undermanned Bruins, who were missing defensemen Zdeno Chara
and Milan Jurcina, as well as star forward Marco Sturm.
"It's coming," promised Bruins forward Glen Murray. "We've played a [few] games and we're starting to get our legs under us.
"Next week is when it really starts, and we're ready…I don't think we've had our whole team together for two games.
"We'll get Big Z back and Marco, and get all our D healthy – you know what, it's going to be fun," explained Murray.
The Bruins, playing their one and only preseason game in the Garden, under a dazzling new scoreboard and amongst other improvements in the building, were under the gun early as the Rangers came out firing.
"At first we were a little tentative, a little nervous," said Lewis. "It was our first home game and there were a lot of new faces but as the game went on, I think the guys got some momentum.
"In the second period, we took over the game and had some glorious chances."
But the Bruins were victims of the referee whistle throughout the afternoon, as they were called for 11 penalties for 22 minutes that led to four power play goals for the Rangers.
"We have to do a much better job, particularly killing 5-on-3 or 4-on-3," said Lewis. "I know that in today's game special teams are critical.
"That's why [New York] won the game, but I saw a lot of positives out there."
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was tested several times early by the Bruins who peppered the New Yorker with several quality shots at the end of the first period and continued to test the Swedish Olympic hero throughout the game.
Lundqvist finished with 31 saves.
Boston's Murray finally scored for the Bruins at 13:30 of the second period (from P.J. Axelsson and Marc Savard
), and the Bruins attempted a comeback in the third period with goals coming from Brad Boyes (assists to Patrice Bergeron
and Phil Kessel) and Petr Tenkrat (Savard, Andrew Alberts).
In the end, however, Boston was unable to overcome the deficit. Yet, after the game, the Bruins, who could be called "Team Optimism" during this training camp, remained a very optimistic team.
"We've had some major positives this preseason," said Bruins defenseman Paul Mara. "And we have four days of practice to get ready for Friday night.
"There are some good things that came out of these seven games and we are going to build on that."
The Bruins next play the Florida Panthers on Friday October 6.
Three Stars, Chosen by WBZ
#1 NYR N. Dawes
#2 BOS M. Savard
#3 NYR J. Jagr