Dave Goucher and Bob Beers will have the radio call of the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The game will also air on NHL Network in the U.S. (simulcast of Capitals’ live coverage on CSN-DC).
With General Manager Don Sweeney announcing another round of roster cuts on Thursday evening, 24 players hit the ice for a morning practice at TD Garden on Friday before the team traveled to Washington D.C.
Captain Zdeno Chara continued skating on his own prior to the full practice.
The lineup that the Bruins are set to have on Friday night will be the closest they have come to icing their full roster this preseason.
“There’s still some evaluation to be made, whether it be certain players and obviously we’ve still got to cut down a little bit,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following Friday’s morning skate. “And I don’t think that necessarily what you see tonight is the final roster and stuff like that.”
“We’re leaving Max Talbot behind, we’re leaving [Jonas] Gustavsson behind, working out with [Goaltending Coach] Bob [Essensa] doing extra work today, so we haven’t made a decision on our goaltending yet, as far as the backup is concerned.”
“We haven’t finalized our guys up front and as you know, on the back end, we’ve got some injured players [Chara and Dennis Seidenberg] that once they come back, there’s going to be decisions to be made there as well, so we’re getting close to the final 22, 23-man roster, but there’s still some things that will be decided, not only tonight, but probably moving forward here at the start of the season.”
With Talbot and Gustavsson staying back, that puts 13 forwards traveling to D.C. along with seven blueliners. Tuukka Rask will start in goal, with Jeremy Smith serving as the backup.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there and that decision-making is going to be a group decision,” Julien said of deciding on a backup goaltender for Rask. “We’re going to look at the pros, the cons and everything else that goes into it.”
“Unfortunately that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and allow those guys an opportunity to play more and assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is and we know Tuukka’s got to play, that’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
“So we’ll have to make decisions and again, who knows, the decision after tonight doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the final decision. Hopefully we’ve got some flexibility down the road — there’s another guy there in Malcolm Subban, had a good camp too and he’s in that category of guys that are down there.”
“There’s some tough decisions to be made, but again, that’s another area — I like the depth that we have in goal so far this year, from Gustavsson to Smith to Subban and even [Zane] McIntyre who’s in his first year and I know will play in the NHL.”
After Rask’s timing and angles felt a little off in his other preseason game, he’s excited to get back into action.
“I’d like to get a win, play a good game, get a lot of good shots and get the win, and that’s it,” said Rask.
“Then I guess we’re going to finish up with 3-on-3, so that will be interesting,” he added, of the Bruins and Capitals playing a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period, no matter the score after regulation.
Julien Pleased with Competition
Heading into training camp, Julien and Sweeney, along with the rest of the Bruins management, ownership and staff, had high hopes for the young burgeoning talent and new members of the B’s to make their mark.
“I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen,” said Julien. “And you know, there are some guys that are in Providence right now that are good enough to be call-ups here — we talk about Koko [Alex Khokhlachev], we talk about [Brian] Ferlin, just to name a few guys and there’s more out there too, there’s [Seth] Griffith who’s still here who’s injured.”
“We’ve got some depth and we’ve got a lot of players that will play in the NHL but still need some experience, are a little young ad so for me, I’m pleased and we’ve kept a larger group for that reason, because there’s a lot of guys that have done well that at one point, for the sake of your team and preparation, you’ve got to cut down.”
“So we’ve sent some guys down already that probably could have had a longer camp and more preseason games, but definitely deserve a longer look, so… definitely pleased with the camp and what almost every player has shown so far.”
Randell Still Battling
One player who still remains with the team is Tyler Randell. A hard-nosed player, Randell has proven that he can be the full package — a gritty player with skill who will stick up for his teammates.
“This is by far the furthest I’ve gone,” a soft-spoken Randell said of making it past the recent round of cuts. “This is a very new experience. This is a great feeling. Obviously it’s still a lot of pressure. I’ve just got to keep battling and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Randell was beside himself when trying to explain his experience thus far.
“It’s an unbelievable experience — it’s hard to go to sleep at night right now,” he smiled. “Just thinking about it is pretty exciting, but just have to keep going and keep battling, and hopefully things will go my way.”
“He’s another guy — I know we’ve talked about Zac Rinaldo, but he’s another guy that has pretty decent hands too, you know, and right now, I think we’re talking about a young guy who has to build some consistency in his games — game after game after game,” said Julien. “He’s killed penalties, we all know he’s a tough kid, but he’s got some skill, I’ve seen that in training camp here.”
“We just need to have a continued look at him and see how he plays down the road. We’ll have to make a decision obviously, we’ve got too many forwards, but his consistency is what we want him to work on, because he’s got a lot of the other attributes you look for in a guy like him.”
Final Tune-Up on Tap
While players are still pushing for spots and decisions will eventually need to be made before the final roster is submitted on Oct. 6 (in advance of the NHL’s opening night on Oct. 7), the B’s mainstays are focused on fine-tuning their games.
“That’s probably the biggest thing is the timing and your hands and shot and all of that will come back, and it has It think, for most of the guys,” said Kevan Miller. “And I think our biggest thing is hard work and we want to make sure that we’re working hard, night in and night out and bringing our game, so we’re trying to carry that from our preseason, which we’ve done a pretty good job, right into the season.”
Brad Marchand was excited to finally have the entire group together and preparing for game action, as much of camp two or three groups have been separated into different practices and lineups.
“It’s been tough at times because we’ve been split up into different groups, but the last few days we’ve been together and it’s been great,” said Marchand. “Everyone’s done a really good job at trying to get to know one another and joking around and feeling comfortable in the room — that’s what we need, and it transfers onto the ice, we’re having a lot of fun out there and we’re enjoying the situation we’re in, so I like where we’re at.”
“We’re going to have most of our lineup in, so you know, it’s looking more like our team that we’re going to start the first game, so we’re just looking to fine-tune some things and you want to go in there and get a win on the road,” said Brett Connolly. “Obviously when you start strong in the preseason, it usually carries over to the start of the season, so we know we’re looking to stay strong here and carry that over into the season.”
Lines and Defensive Pairings 10/2
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Loui Eriksson
Jimmy Hayes — Ryan Spooner — Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly — Joonas Kemppainen — Zac Rinaldo
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
Matt Irwin — Kevan Miller
Colin Miller — Zach Trotman
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jeremy Smith