For young prospects, newly drafted players, or fringe players invited on a tryout basis, training camp could be considered the most intense and important five weeks of their careers. For veterans, some look at this period of time as an opportunity to coast and save energy for the upcoming 82-game campaign.
Boy, talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Boston Bruins are about halfway through with their preseason schedule. Things seem to be going pretty solid out on the ice. The B’s skated to victory in the first three exhibitions as they defeated the New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and New York Rangers, respectively. Matt Irwin (who was signed this offseason) netted both goals in the game against New Jersey.
During the game against the Capitals, we witnessed the first glimpse of what the three-on-three overtime format would look like…and it was awesome. All it took was 12 seconds for David Pastrnak to net the game winner. The second-year player is having himself a great camp with the Bruins.
Matt Beleskey has been clicking with David Krejci while Jimmy Hayes has been the perfect complement to Ryan Spooner on the third line. In goal, Jonas Gustavsson (tryout) recorded 18 saves in his Black and Gold debut. He is making things look real interesting in the backup goaltender battle since Jeremy Smith has been leaking goals that he would have loved to have back. Specifically, Smith allowed three soft goals in the shootout win against the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Of course, the off-ice component of training camp is important as well. The B’s have endured the full impact of the hardships.
This past Wednesday, the team announced that Dennis Seidenberg underwent back surgery and will be out of action for a minimum of eight weeks. Also, it was reported that Zdeno Chara suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday’s game against the Rangers. He is currently listed as day-to-day, according to B’s head coach Claude Julien.
Can you believe that in the span of one year, the Bruins will potentially have lost Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Seidenberg, and Chara? The way things look on the blue line is certainly frightening from an experience standpoint.
As previously mentioned, Irwin will assume a much bigger role than originally anticipated upon arriving in Boston. He was competing for the seventh defenseman role, but with the injury to Seidenberg and having a solid camp thus far, Irwin has the size and hockey IQ to succeed in a bigger position with the Bruins.
Also, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller are great young studs that provide some offensive touch to the table. The problem is that both Morrow and Miller have either very little or no NHL experience. At this point, the group that will indeed round out the top-six defensemen will have to play in between 18-20 minutes per game in order to absorb some of the deficiencies on the back end.
The promising component to keep in mind is that the Bruins have quite a bit of cap flexibility. If things are not going their way by the trade deadline, they will be looking to add a major piece in order to compete for a playoff spot.
After a game on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings in which they maintained an undefeated record (so far) in September, the Bruins will wrap up the remaining games on the preseason schedule this upcoming week. Patience, everyone…October 8th is almost here.