But in the end, that didn’t really matter.
Boston dropped a 5-4 overtime contest at the hands of the Capitals on Friday night in Washington, but the loss wasn’t what resonated with Head Coach Claude Julien.
“I thought it was a good, intense game, and in preseason, if you can manage to get those types of games, it certainly helps your team prepare even better,” he said. “Our guys stuck together well, and it was hit for hit. They were coming after us, we were going after them. I thought it was a real good game, and for a preseason game, I would imagine the fans enjoyed it, too.”
Over the course of 62-plus minutes, there were nine goals, 14 penalties, two fights and plenty of scrums after the whistle. Emotions ran high for both teams, and even though it’s only the preseason, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I think the guys are taking it seriously, and they want to get ready for the season,” said forward Jordan Caron. “Lots of guys are trying to win spots in the NHL, so I think the further we're going to go in the preseason, the harder the games are going to be.”
After Friday’s morning skate at Ristuccia Arena, winger Matt Fraser — who came up with a big power play goal in Tuesday’s contest at Montreal — cited a need to build on what he did the last time out and play with consistency. Against the Capitals, he did just that: After Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps a 1-0 lead with a power play tally, Fraser returned the favor, tying the game on the man advantage.
As has become his custom, though, Fraser was hesitant to praise himself after the game.
“I read something about [David Krejci] saying something today — he'd rather play a better all-around game than just be scoring goals — and I think that's just the mentality of this team,” Fraser said. “I think you put everyone ahead of yourself, and I think it's preseason and this is a time to show that, to show the guys that you're here to battle for them and here because you want to be and you're showing that you belong here.”
Julien remains impressed with the winger.
“Fraz has been playing well,” he said. “He's gritty. He goes in, finishes his checks, separates guys from pucks. He's not afraid to go to the front of the net, like you saw on that first goal. You know, without a helmet, he went there and got his nose dirty, and so I think there's a lot of things that Matt is doing right now that's been pretty impressive.”
Caron, skating alongside Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith, also contributed substantially to Boston’s offensive effort on Friday night. He caused the turnover that led to Griffith’s first goal, which gave the Bruins a 2-1 advantage early in the second period, and at the end of the frame, he assisted on Griffith’s second goal to give Boston a 3-2 lead.
“That's what I want to do every night,” he said. “I think the more chances you get offensively, the better you feel about yourself, and your confidence goes up. I think you've got to have that role, too. It's not always easy to play offensively when you're not on an offensive line, but I think when you get that chance, and you feel good about yourself, good things are going to happen.”
It was a breakout game of sorts for Griffith, who impressed with his scoring touch during his rookie season in Providence last year.
“I think Soderberg and Caron made some nice passes to me,” he said. “I didn't have to do too much, so a lot of credit goes to them.
“I think I've been getting better. You know, this is only my second preseason game, but I thought I played better than I did at home the other night, so I just want to keep getting better and showing what I have.”
After Matt Lindblad made it 4-2 with about three minutes remaining in the second period, Washington got one back, courtesy of Michael Latta, and five minutes into the third, Liam O’Brien tied things up at four.
Though the B’s would eventually fall when Troy Brouwer corralled a loose puck in front of the net and sent it past Niklas Svedberg 2:12 into overtime, Julien was pleased with the overall effort.
“I thought it was a fairly good game for us.,” he said. “I looked at the lineup before the game, and I said, ‘We're going to have our hands full tonight,’ but I thought we handled them fairly well.”
Svedberg, who also got the start at Montreal on Tuesday but played his first full game of 2014-15 on Friday, was hard on himself afterward. He said he has been feeling good during practices, but he was unwilling to make excuses for his performance against the Caps.
“Practices, feels good, but I don't think that matters,” he said. “Obviously, today I'm not too happy, letting up five goals, but you know, that's life. So you've got to move on.”
Both Bobby Robins and Adam McQuaid were assessed fighting majors in Friday’s notably scrappy contest, but their teammates welcomed the displays of emotion, even though this is just the preseason.
“You get the juices flowing,” Fraser said. “You start building that rivalry for the season, and I think every guy who puts on that jersey in the NHL has got a competitive edge. It doesn't matter if it's practice or exhibition or whatever it may be — everyone's ready to go, everyone wants to win and that's what makes it fun to go out and play.”
Friday’s loss leaves the B’s with a 1-2 mark in preseason play, but they are making headway as they work their way toward building some consistency and putting forth a full 60-minute effort. Despite the loss, Friday’s game was a step in the right direction.
“We didn't give up,” Fraser said. “There's a few corrections here and there, but that's kind of part of it. That's what's going to happen this early in the season.”