Preseason games early in training camp are usually much more important to the youngsters and long-range prospects than established NHL players, and that’s normally the case for the Boston Bruins as well.
But it was encouraging to see veteran Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore look healthy and effective for the B’s in a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in their exhibition opener at Capital One Arena. The 30-year-old Moore saw his season end prematurely last year when he underwent hip surgery at the end of March and continue a pattern of injuries and inconsistency during his time with the Black and Gold. Moore managed just five games last season and 29 games overall over the last two seasons in Boston, but he chipped in a pair of assists in the B’s exhibition win on Sunday afternoon.
Moore got a secondary assist on Jake DeBrusk’s goal and then got a point shot through that Erik Haula redirected for the second score, and finished with two points, a plus-2 four shot attempts, two hits and two blocked shots in 21:22 of ice time. Even better, Moore felt healthy and ready to compete for a spot amongst a very competition defensemen situation with the Boston Bruins.
“It felt great. Training camp as a whole, now that I’m older, I have perspective now on how to navigate it. There’s a progression each and every day to compartmentalizing, but also making sure that you’re building and improving your game each and every day,” said Moore. “As a group we did a lot of really good things, but now it’s on the next day and the next challenge. That’s the song and dance, so to speak, for training camp from my perspective.
“Coming off a really long rehab, I was so excited to see my name on the board and get an opportunity to play. I love hockey and it’s always in the back of your mind when you go through those things that it might never come back. Just grateful to be out there.
Moore will have to remain healthy, and he may just wind up as the veteran seventh defenseman to start this season with the top six slots seemingly locked up by Derek Forbort, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Mike Reilly, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton. The competition is something he’s keenly aware of where Clifton is perhaps the only spot that might be at least partially open, and young guns like Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril and Jack Ahcan are waiting in the wings as well.
“It’s not just the guys they brought in and signed, but a lot of the young players are so talented and gifted. But I’m really just focusing on myself and what I can control,” said Moore. “My preparation and my compete level [are under my control] and you just go from there. If you put your best foot forward and give it your all, things usually have a way of working out.”
But injuries and attrition will open up opportunities for Moore if he can remain healthy and effective, and that’s the goal after two difficult seasons back-to-back.
“He’s a guy that is in a battle for playing time this year, so these games are important to him. Most veterans like that it’s more about sharpening your game and getting ready for opening night, but he’s in a little bit of a different situation,” said Cassidy. “He missed time, a lot of time, and he’s in a battle for a spot. So these games are valuable, and he’s been very focused in practice.
“He’s been very business-like, and he was in the game tonight, and he needs to be. One of the things we talked about in preseason is that everybody is in different spots. Some kids are 18, 19 years old and just getting a look and other guys are first, second year pro and need to do more time in Providence and other guys are on the bubble. Some are veteran guys and older guys just getting ready for the season and other guys are trying to move up the lineup. Other guys are reclaiming their spot and [Moore] falls into that category a little bit. He needs to play well in the exhibitions to earn playing time, and he did a good job for us tonight.”