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Pregame Notebook: Eriksson Hopes to Find Fit with Bergeron, Marchand; Chara Skates

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — When the Bruins face off against the Red Wings at TD Garden on Monday night, Loui Eriksson will get another preseason game playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

The winger has been skating with the pair for most of camp as Head Coach Claude Julien experiments with line combinations.

The members of the trio are familiar with one another. All three exhibit skill and responsible two-way play.

“We had some good practices and one game, so hopefully we can even build on some things tonight in that game,” Eriksson said following Monday's morning skate. “We still have a couple games left here and some practices before everything starts, so definitely feeling good and just need to work on some things and get that chemistry going.”

As they get more games together, that chemistry should continue building.

“Practice helps, to talk on the ice and talk through some stuff, what we want to do out there, but then in the games it’s a little bit different so of course, it’s nice to get some games too and get that feeling and find each other on the ice,” he said.

Two seasons ago, as Eriksson was starting his time in Boston, he was put on a line with Bergeron and Marchand for training camp and the first few weeks of the 2013-14 season before suffering his first concussion. The line looked like it was gelling. When Eriksson returned from his injury, he didn’t rejoin the tandem.

“My first season I had the opportunity to play with them in the beginning too,” said Eriksson. “And we got a couple of games in, but then they kind of switched it up a little bit and then I’ve been playing with different lines the past two years here.”

“I’m just hoping to find that chemistry and a line to play with — it’s always a nice feeling to have that and have that feeling coming in, knowing that you have a line to play with, so I’m just going to do everything to earn that spot and work on some things and get better.”

He’s not looking to do anything different with his game, playing with the longtime tandem.

“I’m not trying to change my game, I’m just trying to go in there and help them out,” said Eriksson. “And I know they’ve been playing together for a long time, so they know each other real well, so I’m just trying to be a guy who comes in and helps them out and makes plays for them and yeah, I’m just trying to do my best.”

The chemistry that Bergeron and Marchand have makes it automatically easier for any player to slide in on their right wing.

“It allows us to talk to them and kind of be on the same page a lot quicker,” Marchand told BostonBruins.com earlier in training camp. “It does allow it to be easier for me and Bergy when a new winger switches out.”

Roster Reduced as Bruins Head into Final Preseason Stretch

The Bruins announced a series of roster cuts on Sunday afternoon, with nine players headed to the Providence Bruins Training Camp and the rest of the 2015 draft picks returned to their junior teams.

With three games remaining — Monday’s home game against Detroit and two more road games in New York and D.C. — Julien and his staff are getting closer to their regular season roster.

“We have to start making some tough decisions here,” said Julien. “I’ve been impressed, I’ve been pleased with the number of guys that we’ve had at camp that have really made a good impression.”

“Some of them are already gone, you know, whether it’s back to junior and you know I look at [Jake] DeBrusk as an example — and here’s a young kid that did an unbelievable job at protecting that puck — he’s 18 years old and he’s playing against pros and he’s protecting the puck, and making plays, and taking pucks to the net like he did the other night, and cutting in and not afraid to take that puck to the net.”

“There’s some impressive things from some different guys that we’ve seen, so again, we’ve got some real tough decisions coming up. But we’ve had a good number of players here that have really opened our eyes and that’s the encouraging part of it.”

Rask Gets First Preseason Start

As Julien announced on Sunday, Tuukka Rask will start his first game of the preseason on Monday night against the Red Wings.

“I’ve been fine — I said yesterday I’m sure I could have had a game or half a game if I really wanted to,” Rask said Monday, on not dressing for the first four preseason games. “I figure that I’ll play my games this week and carry over to next week.”

Czarnik Gets Opportunity

David Krejci will not be playing on Monday, leaving an opening for Austin Czarnik to get a chance centering Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak.

The 22-year-old is just glad to still be at training camp after another round of cuts.

“It’s something that we worked for and that we’ve been trying to do all week and trying to make the final roster, so it’s exciting right now and I’ll try and take advantage of it,” said Czarnik, who has impressed the Bruins’ coaching staff and management since rookie camp.

“Fortunate to be here and tonight’s going to be a good night I think — playing with them is a real honor and I’m excited to get things going.”

No matter where Czarnik ends up at the start of the season — Boston or Providence — the opportunity he’s getting at camp will help both him and the Bruins’ staff.

“You get down to the last few numbers, you look at different players and even if they’re not here [at the start of the regular season], the evaluation we can make on these guys knowing that can be a call-up and what they can bring to your team,” said Julen. “Whether it’s reliability or whether it’s creativity…It’s important to see those kinds of things.”

“He’s been with Frank Vatrano for most of camp and now he’s got an opportunity to maybe play with some more experienced guys and we’ll see what he can do. Like I said, we’re still in an evaluation process here and he’s had a good camp and he’s here because he still deserves to be here.”

Krejci Back at Practice

While Krejci won’t be suiting up on Monday night, he was back at practice after being given Sunday off.

The center skated with a second session of non-game players that included forwards Anton Blidh, Brett Connolly, Brian Ferlin, Alex Khokhlachev, Tyler Randell, Zac Rinaldo; defensemen Chris Casto, Tommy Cross, Matt Irwin and Adam McQuaid; and goalies Jeremy Smith and Jonas Gustavsson (who will be Rask’s backup on Monday before likely getting his own full game between the pipes in New York on Wednesday).

“[On Sunday] you guys asked, you know, [about Krejci not practicing]— it’s been a long camp and a lot of guys started getting a little stiff so we’re over cautious with him,” said Julien. “We don’t want anything to go wrong. So we just…this is how we’re handling some of our veteran players.”

After the skate, Krejci was anxious abut getting back with his linemates.

“Obviously we’ve been kind of clicking, finding some chemistry,” said Krejci. “They’re playing tonight, I’m not, so you know, I hope the best for them and for the team, but once tomorrow comes, I hope to be back with those guys in practice.”

“It’s been fun in games, practices, new guys kind of coming in and they’re pretty vocal in the dressing room as well, they have some character, so it’s fun to have them and it’s been a good ride so far.”

Chara Progressing

Zdeno Chara skated Monday morning on his own and is “doing better,” according to Julien.

“Things are going as expected, I guess. It’s all encouraging,” Julien said.

Chara left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury that was termed “day-to-day.”

“We’ve kept it day-to-day because he’s progressing so obviously [won’t be in tonight — we’ll see how the rest of the week goes here and like anything else, we’re going to be more cautious than anything.”

Gustavsson Welcomes Birth of Daughter

Gustavsson was away from the team for a few days while he was welcoming the birth of his daughter in Detroit on Friday. The new father had an exciting couple of days before returning to the team.

The netminder was able to fly back with the Bruins following Saturday night’s game in Detroit. He had originally been slated to start the Sept. 24 game against the Rangers. At camp on a Professional Tryout Agreement, the timing wasn’t necessarily ideal, but it wasn’t an issue for him or the Bruins.

“We knew this coming into camp, that if the baby wasn’t born before camp, there was a big chance that I maybe I’d have to go for a day or two, so that’s something we knew and obviously hockey’s important but you know I feel like family always comes first,” said Gustavsson. “We all knew that day would come sooner or later, so it is what it is, and I’m just happy everything went good and now I can just focus on hockey.”

Projected Lineup vs. Detroit 9/28

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey — Austin Czarnik — David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Chris Kelly — Joonas Kemppainen — Max Talbot

Linus Arnesson — Kevan Miller
Torey Krug — Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow — Colin Miller

Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
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