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The Competition Continues

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- While nearly everyone would agree that it would be nice to fast forward to the B's home opener, Boston's coaching staff is just fine with the time that remains in the preseason.

There's just a few roster spots up for grabs and while the competition on the ice on Thursday and Saturday won't end up in the standings, the internal competition to make the roster might just have more far reaching ramifications.

"We're getting down to the last couple of preseason games and we start next week, so it's important that we bring our numbers down and the players that are left here right now are guys that have earned their right to stay and have a look and battle for a spot," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, who agreed that competition for a berth on the Boston blueline is getting fierce, what with Matt Bartkowski and Steve Kampfer both making a bid for playing time with the big club.

"It's tough," said Julien. "Right now there's a couple of guys that are there that are pretty even and each bring a certain element that we like, so now it's a matter of them battling for that spot.

"It's pretty obvious that both those guys were on our radar last year. Either they were call ups or they were here for part of the season and again it's that same battle that happened last year."

Bartkowski was the final cut from last season's opening night roster and appeared in six NHL game. Meanwhile, Kampfer played 38 games for Boston with 5-5-10 totals.

"I think all those things are valuable because those guys had an opportunity to be around the team and when they did get called up like they did last year; it was an easier fit for them," said Julien. "They've been around our players for most of the camp and team building and I think that it's an asset and that's what we plan on doing again this year -- making sure that we bring some of those guys with us that we plan on bringing up through the course of the year.

"I think that it's important for those guys to be around us...through the team building process and I don't think that will change this year."

But Julien didn't rule out there being some surprises beyond the blueline and said that as in past seasons, if a player deserves to play -- they'll play.

The B's bench boss said he doesn't mind that mindset at all.

"I think it gets pretty obvious at the end who you're battling against," explained Julien. "At the same time it's good competition.

"That doesn't mean that those guys are only fighting for open spots.

"They can be taking somebody else's spot if we feel that they're a step ahead of them and we've got a chance to see some of those guys in the next couple of games and then hopefully they'll make our decisions as hard as possible," he said.

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