The B’s wrapped up their preseason on Friday night in Washington D.C. against the Capitals. The 2-1 shootout loss put them at 4-3-1 through their seven exhibition games.
The real season begins this Thursday, Oct. 8 when the Bruins host Winnipeg. They’ll get another day off on Monday, before convening for two more practices in advance of the opener.
“I think it’s a luxury to have this situation because again, we’re able to work on our game and after the last game in Washington, it was pretty obvious to us watching our team that there’s some parts of our game that need some work,” Head Coach Claude Julien said Sunday from TD Garden. “And that’s what we’ve got the opportunity to do this week before the opener, is to work on those parts of our game that’s going to make us better.”
“It allows us that flexibility instead of cramming everything in at the end and having just very little time to get ready. We’ve got a lot of time here.”
Brad Marchand and his teammates are utilizing the time with the coaching staff.
“Last year we started pretty much right away and now having pretty much a week to have a couple days to get rested up and a lot of practice days to get used to our lines and work together, it will be good,” said Marchand, who has plenty of familiarity with longtime linemate Patrice Bergeron, but could use the time for them to mesh more with their right winger Loui Eriksson.
“It will benefit our team and we’re looking forward to it.”
Julien and his coaching staff were noticeably more vocal during Sunday’s skate, often stopping drills and having long conversations with players. The talks and teaching moments weren’t just reserved for young players like Colin Miller, David Pastrnak and Joe Morrow. Veterans did plenty of learning as well.
“Everybody’s just trying to focus on heading into the season, having a really good start and everybody knows how important it is,” said Morrow, who has been steady and calm throughout the preseason in his play.
“Practices come down to more teaching and more watching a lot of video before practice of all the preseason and a lot of nit-picking, so it’s good, everybody’s learning out there and everybody’s buying into the system and I feel like we’re going to have a really good start to the season.”
“I feel like every time I step on the ice, I’m getting a little bit better and that’s all I can ask for, is very subtle improvements,” he said. “You know, you’re not going to take big leaps every day, but as long as you’re getting better and you’re putting the effort in, it’s definitely worth your time and it’s going to keep progressing.”
Chara Inching Closer
Zdeno Chara has been considered “day-to-day” for about 10 days now, after sustaining an upper-body injury on Sept. 24. The Bruins Captain has been skating on his own since last Monday.
On Sunday, he skated and took wristers on his own at one end of the ice while the group took part in 2-on-2 battling drills at the other. He was set to skate more on his own once the rest of the team wrapped practice.
“His situation — we said day to day, because his injury was not one that we could say it’s going to be a week, which it’s been right now — we didn’t know,” said Julien. “So you can’t go out there and say he’s out for a week and then all of a sudden three days later he’s in, so he’s still day to day.”
“I think he’s inching closer and I think he’s getting very close to practicing with our team. Now, I can’t — again, because it’s day to day — I don’t know if he’s going to be in tomorrow or the day after or whatever, we’re hoping that’s the case. It’s looking like it’s heading in that direction, but there’s no guarantees. So we don’t know and he’s still day to day, and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible, but he’s skating, he’s feeling better every day, so that’s the positive thing about Zdeno’s situation.”
Roster Questions Remain
The Bruins debuted their colored practice jerseys on Sunday, designating lines, for the first time this preseason.
With the home opener drawing near, the 60-player training camp roster has dwindled to 14 forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies taking part in skates (not included Chara and Dennis Seidenberg and Seth Griffith, who are both out with injuries). Jonas Gustavsson and Jeremy Smith are both still with the group, competing for the backup spot behind Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins will have to get down to their 23-player roster by Tuesday evening.
“We haven’t made our final decision and we haven’t decided what we want to do — which direction we’re going,” said Julien. “There’s so many things to come into play, whether it’s waivers, whether it’s non-waivers, whether it’s what we need at the moment, whether we need more of a look or whether we need more time. I don’t know yet, we haven’t gotten there yet, so it’s hard for me to answer that question because we’re not there yet.”
Up front, the fourth line is not set in stone, with Chris Kelly, Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot, Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell (who the group had lead the center-ice stretch on Sunday) all having rotated roles there.
“We’ve discussed about a lot of players and everything else, but a final decision hasn’t been made yet,” said Julien.
Practice Lineup 10/4
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes — Ryan Spooner — Brett Connolly — Zac Rinaldo
Chris Kelly — Joonas Kemppainen — Max Talbot — Tyler Randell
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
Matt Irwin — Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow — Colin Miller
Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Jonas Gustavsson