BOSTON — The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Thursday morning at TD Garden with a group of 26 players.
Captain Zdeno Chara skated prior to practice with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides. It has been a week since he sustained his upper-body injury in a preseason game and was ruled out day-to-day.
Chara began skating on his own on Monday, and his workouts have progressed throughout the week to include more conditioning, stickhandling and shooting drills with Whitesides.
As the preseason winds down, the Bruins have just one exhibition game remaining on Friday, Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.
They’ll need to get to their 23-man Opening Night roster by Tuesday, Oct. 6 with the NHL kicking off the season on Oct. 7. The Bruins host Winnipeg in their opener at TD Garden on Oct. 8.
While no roster cuts had been announced by the end of the Bruins’ 11:00 a.m. practice on Thursday, the following players were not on the ice for the skate: forwards Anton Blidh, Brandon DeFazio, Alex Khokhlachev and Ben Sexton; and defenseman Chris Breen. All five players suited up in Wednesday night’s preseason game in New York against the Rangers.
Fifteen forwards, eight defenseman and three goalies were on the ice for practice.
Both Jonas Gustavsson and Jeremy Smith remain in a battle for the backup role behind Rask.
“It’s not up to me to make those decisions,” Gustavsson said Wednesday night, after suiting up in his first full game of the preseason. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can out there when I get the chance. That’s all I can do. So far, I feel like I’ve been trying to prepare myself as good as possible for practices and games, and that’s all I can do.”
“I thought he played pretty well,” Head Coach Claude Julien said of Gustavsson. “We dominated in the shot department, but he had to make some big saves. He was good. Again, the same thing I said about Smitty — [Gustavsson] battled back, and I thought he got better during the game.”
“So we’ve got some tough decisions to make, here, between those two guys.”
On the back end, players like Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, and Tommy Cross are competing for roster spots, while hard-nosed players like Joonas Kemppainen, Brian Ferlin, Zac Rinaldo and Tyler Randell are hoping to carve out bottom six roles for themselves.
For more practice coverage, stay tuned to BostonBruins.com and the Bruins Mobile App throughout the day.
The entire Bruins roster will be partaking in the team’s “Media Day,” which also includes a press conference with Boston Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, President Cam Neely, General Manager Don Sweeney and Head Coach Claude Julien.
Follow live updates on Twitter @NHLBruins and find the Bruins on Periscope for live video coverage.
Practice Lineup 10/1
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes — Ryan Spooner — Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly — Joonas Kemppainen — Brian Ferlin
Zac Rinaldo — Max Talbot — Tyler Randell
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
Matt Irwin — Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow — Kevan Miller
Colin Miller — Tommy Cross
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson, Jeremy Smith