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Competition Heating Up as Bruins Host Blackhawks

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - The Bruins' training camp roster has been reduced, with three preseason games to go, and competition is heating up for roster spots.

That will continue to play out when the Black & Gold next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. ET at TD Garden.

All of the young defensemen competing for roles are expected to be in the lineup, with Rob O'Gara, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, and Paul Postma joining Brandon Carlo on the back end.

With Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller in solidified roles and McAvoy having showcased his game during the postseason, the opportunity exists for a young blueliner to claim Torey Krug's spot while he heals from his jaw injury.

"I think it will be great. There's a lot of internal competition within our team, and it's fun when we have the opportunity to come together and play against another team," said Carlo. "So it will be an enjoyable night, and you'll see a lot of the youth and the speed out there tonight, so it should be pretty good."

Carlo knows what it's like to be in that position, competing for a role.

"I feel like coming in last year, I didn't really know what to expect - I didn't know where I was going to be at at the start of the year," said Carlo. "And the opportunity came about and I feel like I took good advantage of playing with that opportunity last year and I feel like I've made good strides with the opportunity under my belt."

Up front, forward Ryan Fitzgerald remains with the team. He has impressed Bruce Cassidy with his pace, and will get another opportunity to showcase his game in the lineup against Chicago.

"Fitzy, I liked his game. For me, I thought he's done what we asked, so we'll give him another game," said Cassidy. "The [Kenny] Agostino injury has opened up a door, so a good opportunity for Fitzy. I thought he was a little ahead of the other guys, so that's why we put him in."

As the preseason dwindles down, Cassidy is keeping a close watch on the young players in particular, and knows what he wants to see from them.

"Well, [for them to] keep pushing. Consistency. Being strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger," said Cassidy. "You're getting closer to NHL lineups. Most teams like us are pairing down, in general, and I thought the lineup in Detroit was very strong, so some of the guys, that's the expectation they're going to see 82 times."

Malcolm Subban will get the start tonight between the pipes.

Camp Roster Reduced

Among the roster reductions, forwards Anton Blidh, Colby Cave, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, and Zach Senyshyn were assigned to the Providence Bruins, along with defenseman Jakub Zboril and netminder Zane McIntyre.

Cassidy sees the prospects' potential, and that their time with Providence will make them better players.

"A year of pro has made Danton Heinen better, and [Jake] DeBrusk, you can see the improvement in them," said Cassidy. "We didn't see DeBrusk up at all last year, we saw Heinen early in the year, and they're better players for it, so that's the plan."

"They'll go down there [to Providence], they'll play, and progress, and we'll see where they end up."

Chris Breen, Connor Clifton, Taylor Doherty, Colton Hargrove and Chris Porter are all signed to AHL deals and will join the Providence Bruins' training camp.

Roster vs. Chicago Sept. 25

Forwards: Noel Acciari, David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Ryan Fitzgerald, Sean Kuraly, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, Rob O'Gara, Paul Postma

Goaltenders: Anton Khudobin, Malcolm Subban


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