The Boston Bruins closed out their preseason Saturday at TD Garden by beating the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, 8-2.
You read that right! Thanks to the Blackhawks starting their season in Prague, the Czech Republic this coming week, the team was playing an exhibition in Switzerland against Eisbaren Berlin as part of the NHL Global Challenge. That left the AHLers that performed best in training camp to take on the Bruins, who were icing almost all their regulars. The Bruins put up a four-spot in the first period and never looked back. Both jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak notched hat tricks and Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists. Defenseman Torey Krug looked great in his second preseason game with three helpers and goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 19 of 21 shots in his second preseason game as well.
While he didn’t register a point Saturday, the fact that Patrice Bergeron got through 12:53 of ice time in his first preseason game was probably the best sign amidst the offensive fireworks the Bruins displayed in their final tuneup before opening the regular season in Dallas against the Stars on Thursday.
Here’s some news and musings from the preseason finale:
Bergeron ‘Fine’ And Ready For Season Opener
Bergeron was back between his normal linemates Brad Marchand and Pastrnak on Saturday and while Bergeron didn’t register a point he was still very much a presence in the shortened workload head coach Bruce Cassidy used to ease him back in. Following the game, the Bruins No. 1 pivot and heart and soul was happy to get some game action in before the Bruins open the regular season on Thursday.
“Good. Good to get the first one out of the way,” said Bergeron who finished a plus 2 while Marchand had an assist and Pastrnak four points. “I thought it’s always good to get that and get your legs underneath you and start getting your timing back, rhythm and everything. So yeah, it was what it was expecting, and it’s fine.”
Kuhlman Will Stay, Bjork Goes To Providence
The Bruins have yet to officially confirm their roster yet and have until 5 PM Tuesday, but it was all but confirmed post-game that Karson Kuhlman will begin the season with the Bruins in the NHL and Anders Bjork will start off with the Providence Bruins in the AHL.
Bjork was given a solid chance Saturday to prove he should stay with the Bruins as he played 20:15 but failed to register a point and took an unnecessary penalty leading to Blackhawks power play.
“Well, I’ve said this before, I think Anders — he was drafted as a scoring winger,” Cassidy said after the game Saturday. “And he hasn’t been able to do that consistently at the professional level, so we have to determine, is he going to be able to do it here? Or is he better serving in Providence, finding that part of his game? What’s going to be better for us in the long run? And do we need him here in the short term?
That’s what we balance. We proved last year we had a good lineup, we subtracted a couple of wingers — sorry, added a center and a winger. We’ll have to make that determination, but my guess is that’s where he will probably end up starting, to work on that part of his game. He had a good training camp, good preseason, he’s healthy, bigger, stronger, so that’ll be just in my preliminary evaluation there, but we’ll sit down again and go over it.”
Kuhlman, on the other hand, got his first goal of the season and is expected to start the season on the second line right wing playing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. With Krejci nursing a lower-body injury and missing another preseason game, Charlie Coyle centered Kuhlman and DeBrusk and the trio clicked well. DeBrusk had the four-point showing, Kuhlman the goal and Coyle had a goal and three assists with one of those the secondary helper on Kuhlman’s goal.
“Well, I know he can play there. I’ve seen it,” Cassidy replied when asked if he’s comfortable with Kuhlman starting the season next to Krejci on the second line. “I haven’t seen him with [David] Krejci this particular preseason, but I’m comfortable with how he plays. So, we just got to make the decision, what’s best for the team. We’ve got some new players in here, did they get a look first? So we’ll talk about all of that stuff. But to answer your question, yes. I like the way Kuhlman plays. He complements Krejci and again, I’ve said this before, not your typical second-line right winger, because his resume isn’t as extensive, but he’s gone in there and did a good job for us and an important thing for us.”
Cassidy once again seemed confident that Krejci will be back between Kuhlman and DeBrusk for the season opener.
Pastrnak’s four-point game was great, but it wasn’t complete without the Bruins Czech winger rocking a rather interesting and stylish “summer suit” as he called it to the media.