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Bruins training camp preview

Play of veterans, Kase contributions, special teams' impact among keys to watch

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

With training camps set to begin on July 13 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, NHL.com is taking a closer look at each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Today, the Boston Bruins.

The Boston Bruins were 44-14-12 (.714 points percentage) and will play in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in the Eastern Conference against the Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, .657), the Washington Capitals (41-20-8, .652), and the Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, .645) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins started the season 11-1-2 on their way to winning the Presidents' Trophy for having the best points percentage in the NHL when the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

They won the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the League (167, 2.39 per game) and were ninth in goals per game (3.24).

"I think our guys recognize that we had a legitimate chance to do well and have a deep run in the playoffs," Boston president Cam Neely said. "Obviously, our goal all along is to win the Stanley Cup. That goal is not going to change. From what I understand, talking to some of the guys, they're anxious and excited."

Boston, which lost the 2019 Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues in seven games, continues to rely heavily on its veteran core of goalie Tuukka Rask, who could be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy voted as the League's top goalie; defenseman Zdeno Chara, who averaged 21:01 of ice time per game; and forwards Patrice Bergeron (56 points) and Brad Marchand (87 points), each of whom has been an integral part of their success the past 10 seasons.

Forward David Pastrnak, a contender for the Hart Trophy voted as the NHL most valuable player, tied Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals and led the Bruins with 95 points.

Video: BOS@PHI: Bergeron wrists one past Hart

 

Player to watch

Ondrej Kase was acquired Feb. 21 in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks to provide scoring depth. The 24-year-old forward did not score in six games with Boston and scored seven goals in 49 games with Anaheim this season. Kase scored 20 goals for the Ducks two seasons ago before he was slowed by a concussion and a torn labrum last season. If he can find his preinjury form, he gives the Bruins some much-needed lineup depth, especially if he can find chemistry with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line.

 

Biggest question

Can the Bruins quickly find their groove on special teams, which tend to be more rhythm-based than even-strength play? Their 25.2 percent power-play percentage was second in the NHL behind the Edmonton Oilers (29.5), and their penalty kill was 84.3 percent, third behind the San Jose Sharks (85.7) and the Oilers (84.4). The Bruins had six players with at least 10 power-play points, led by Pastrnak, who scored 38 (20 goals, 18 assists). There's pressure here, because their offense could struggle if the power play does not click quickly.

 

Injury updates

Brandon Carlo, D -- Healthy after missing the final two games before the pause with an upper-body injury.

Torey Krug, D -- Healthy after missing the final game before the pause with an upper-body injury sustained against the Lightning on March 7.

Kevan Miller, D -- Has been on long-term injured reserve throughout the season because of a knee injury and will not play in the playoffs.

Video: BOS@FLA: Krug hammers home slap shot for OT winner

 

Fresh face

Forward Jack Studnicka played two NHL games early in the season and had an assist in his debut Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens before playing the rest of the season for Providence of the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old led Providence with 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in 60 games, helping it to the second-best points percentage in the AHL (.661) behind Milwaukee (.714). Studnicka has an outside chance of earning a spot on the fourth line.

 

Telling stat

Pastrnak, who has 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 42 NHL playoff games (1.02 points per game) is one of six players in NHL history to average at least one point per game in the playoffs before age 25 (minimum 40 games). Sidney Crosby (1.32), Evgeni Malkin (1.18), Claude Giroux (1.10), Jake Guentzel (1.05) and Eric Staal (1.00) are the others.

Video: TBL@BOS: Pastrnak rockets one-timer in for 48th goal

 

They said it

"[Losing in the Stanley Cup Final last season is] huge motivation. The last season was an unbelievable experience for me. I don't think I would be where I'm at without last year, but obviously we had a great season [in 2019-20] and I think we were a better team than last year. … Just so excited to come back. I can't wait to be playing hockey games again." -- forward David Pastrnak

 

Projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- Ondrej Kase

Nick Ritchie -- Charlie Coyle -- Anders Bjork

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- Jeremy Lauzon

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

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