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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Predators

Bergeron still day-to-day; rookies gearing up for NHL debuts

by Michael Tolvo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - With Opening Night, powered by TD Bank, fast approaching, the Bruins were without four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron during Wednesday's practice, as the center deals with a lower-body injury.

"Not much new. He's day-to-day, didn't skate today," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "We would rather him take the extra day, do whatever we can to get him ready for [Thursday]."

Bergeron had left Tuesday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena early.

"It's hard for me to tell a veteran player that's been in this league, and has had success, how hard to or not to practice," said Cassidy. "He gives it his all…that could push yourself in practice and get the odd twinge here or there. So we hope it's not serious.

"It's hard to discourage that because, boy, it sure is nice for the younger guys to see that every day, and to grow in that culture."

The Bruins were also without forward David Backes during Wednesday's practice.

"He was under the weather today," said Cassidy. "So hopefully he's better tomorrow as well. So we told him to stay home."

In the absence of Bergeron and Backes, Cassidy made adjustments to the forward lines in practice. Ryan Spooner took Bergeron's spot between Brad Marchand and rookie Anders Bjork, while Sean Kuraly centered the third line between Matt Belesky and Frank Vatrano.

Youthful Enthusiasm

After an intense two-week training camp, the Bruins roster has been trimmed to 23 players, including a bevy of new faces.

Rookie forwards Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk are attempting to make the permanent leap to becoming NHL regulars. Both young wingers stood out throughout training camp with their skill and speed, and hope to add a youthful element to the Bruins roster.

"My mindset going into the game is to use all the excitement that I have…" DeBrusk said after Wednesday's skate." There's going to be nerves for sure, but use that in a positive way. Use it as energy, and just see it as another game. "Take it shift by shift. I want to show my game, but I also want to help the team win."

Both DeBrusk and Bjork will make their NHL debuts after securing coveted roles on the Bruins top two lines. The organization is excited for the energy that they bring to the team on and off the ice.

"I think it certainly feeds off in the locker room for some of the other players," Bruins President Cam Neely said at Media Day on Tuesday. "I know a couple of our veteran players made comments early in preseason that they were excited about getting them into the lineup…they are new and they're fresh, and they're learning.

"They have all this energy, and it does certainly permeate through the locker room, and guys do feed off it, there's no question."

While the Bruins are excited about the additions, they will be without defenseman Torey Krug for the beginning of the season. The defenseman is recovering from a fractured jaw suffered in a preseason game against Detroit on Sept. 19.

In the absence of Krug, the Bruins will turn to second-year pro Matt Grzelcyk. The Boston University Grad mirrors Krug with an offensive mindset and his smaller stature, with both standing at 5-foot-9.

Opposing View

The Nashville Predators enter the 2017-18 season as the defending Western Conference champions, after becoming the first No. 8 seed to reach the Stanley Cup Final since the Edmonton Oilers in 2006.

The Predators are looking to replace the loss of two 40-point scorers from last season. Nine-time 20-goal scorer James Neal was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft, while last season's captain Mike Fischer retired.

Still, the Preds are returning their top four scorers from last season, including left-winger Viktor Arvidsson (31-30-61), center Ryan Johansen (14-47-61), left-winger Filip Forsberg (31-27-58) and defenseman Roman Josi (12-37-49). In addition, Nashville also returns former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban (10-30 A-40)

Similar to the Bruins, the Predators are excited about the play of their up-and-coming young players. Forwards Kevin Fiala and Miikka Salomaki both impressed in preseason games, scoring three and four goals respectively.

Between the pipes, the Predators boast three-time All-Star Pekka Rinne. The Finland native started 61 games last season, accumulating a .918 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average. Over 22 playoff starts, Rinne logged a .930 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA.

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