Boston Bruins Training Camp is presented by AT&T.
BOSTON - A return to the postseason after a two-year absence brings with it higher expectations for the season ahead. And the Bruins are just fine with that.
"I've been chomping at the bit since the season's been over," Kevan Miller said during the first day of training camp at Warrior Ice Arena. "This last month's been the longest month of my life. For a lot of the guys, they feel the same way. We're excited to get things going. And higher expectations are exactly where we want to be."
Despite the team's first-round loss to Ottawa last spring, Patrice Bergeron believes there is plenty to be gained from the six-game series, specifically when it comes to Boston's young talent.
"I think the experience we gained from the playoffs is gonna help us going forward with the young guys," said Bergeron. "They got a taste of what it's like to be in the playoffs, but also how hard it is to win. Hopefully we can bring that experience with us.
"I think we are a better team just because of that. That being said, we have to start from scratch and start over this year. I know that there's a lot of young players that are pushing and looking great. I think we're all excited to see them and hopefully fit in."
Chara Up Next?
After the signing of David Pastrnak to a six-year contract on Thursday, general manager Don Sweeney was asked if he would turn his attention to an extension for captain Zdeno Chara, who is in the final year of his contract.
"I've had talks with Zee. Our indications are, as he has indicated, he would like to continue to play hockey," said Sweeney. "We would like to continue to have him as a part of the Boston Bruins. So we will monitor that as we go thorugh camp and as we go through the start of the season and have continuous talks.
"It's important for him to understand that we are in his court in that regard. Theres no timetable to have those discussions. I think he wants to play, he can do it, he's an impactful player, and hopefully we can look forward to having him while he monitors how long he wants to play."
Pull-Ups Still Rule
The main attraction on Day 1 of camp was the pull-up station during the team's off-ice testing. Chara has long been king of what has turned into a fierce internal competition, despite fellow defenseman Kevan Miller emerging as a worthy challenger in recent years.
But the captain - now 40 years old - held off Miller's advances on Thursday and took home the title once again.
"It was a fun day," said Chara, who completed 25 pull-ups. "It's always nice to be competing against each other and trying to get the best results for data that the staff can use throughout the year to help you improve and [prevent] injuries."
Miller continues to be amazed by Chara's level of fitness.
"Every year, can't beat him," said Miller. "He's still got it. It's fun, good competition…It's almost like he gets stronger every year, it's crazy. He looks great right now and he's an inspiration for us all, for sure, pushing the guys, it's healthy competition."
Center of Attention
Despite some discussion of a possible switch to the wing, head coach Bruce Cassidy said he expects Ryan Spooner to begin the season at center.
"Ryan's been here, he's a pro, he's been a Boston Bruin," said Cassidy. "He's got street cred in the NHL, in terms of being able to put up points. It's just he's got to be able to do it on a regular basis from October through the last game of the season.
"That's what we expect out of Ryan and what he should expect out of himself."
Cassidy also said he plans on David Backes playing mostly on the wing. During last year's postseason, Backes switched between center and wing while on a line with Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly.
"With Pasta here now, it changes a bit," said Cassidy. "I would anticipate that David [Backes] would play mostly on the wing. Could be a bit of a hybrid at times, but right now more right wing than center. In 10 days that could change."
Purcell On PTO
Sweeney confirmed on Thursday morning that veteran winger Teddy Purcell is in camp on a professional tryout agreement. The 32-year-old played 12 games for Los Angeles last season, notching two assists in 12 games.
Purcell, who scored a career-high 24 goals in 2011-12 with Tampa Bay, said confidence will be key as he battles for a spot up front alongside the B's bevy of young prospects.
"I feel pretty fortunate. I know I have my work cut out for me, but hopefully I'll be put in a good spot to show them what I can do - work hard and hope for the best," said Purcell, noting the deal came together only a couple of days ago. "I worked hard this summer and hopefully I can make an impression on the guys upstairs."
Goaltender Kyle Keyser is the only other player in camp on a PTO. The 18-year-old netminder from Florida played for Oshawa (OHL) last season.
Cassidy is leaning towards an abbreviated preseason game schedule for some of the Bruins veterans. Boston is scheduled for seven exhibition games, beginning Monday night in Quebec City against Montreal.
"Three to four [games], I think it depends on where each individual is," said Cassidy. "I can't make assumptions, but the older guys, established guys, I can't see them playing more than four games, unless they come to me and say, 'Listen, my timing's off. I need to play.' That's kind of the plan going in is three to four."
Goalie Daniel Vladar (wrist surgery) will not be ready for camp, while forward Peter Cehlarik (shoulder) will participate in a limited capacity early on. Defenseman Emil Johansson suffered a concussion during the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo over the weekend and will not be available until he clears the concussion protocol.
- Camp began with 54 players - 32 forwards, 16 defensemen, and six goaltenders.
- Twenty-eight were drafted by the Bruins, 16 were signed as free agents, five were signed to AHL contracts, three were acquired via trade, and two were invited to camp on PTOs.
- The average height is 6-foot-1, the average weight is 197.9 pounds, and the average age is 23.9 years old.
- Twenty-two players hail from Canada, while 20 are from the United States (Frank Vatrano and Matt Grzelcyk are the Massachusetts natives). The rest of the breakdown is as follows: Czech Republic 4, Sweden 3, Finland 2, Kazakhstan 1, Slovakia 1, Slovenia 1.