Boston Bruins rookie centers Matt Poitras, and John Beecher and rookie defenseman Mason Lohrei will get one final chance to prove they belong on the 2023-24 Bruins opening night roster on Oct. 11.
The Boston Bruins announced their roster (below) for the preseason finale against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. The rookie trio that has improved throughout camp and the preseason was on a roster that head coach Jim Montgomery has said more than once will resemble the one he puts on the ice when the Bruins host 2023 top overall pick and Chicago Blackhawks rookie center Connor Bedard.
“I do think we’re going to get down to a group,” Montgomery reiterated after a 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on Tuesday night. “There won’t be that many decisions left because we do want to get down to the group we’re going to have … who the people are who are going to comprise that group, I’m not that certain yet.”
After logging 16:39 of ice time and assisting on the lone goal for the Boston Bruins in a 3-1 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Monday night, the 2022 second round pick (54th overall) logged 18:27 and scored the game-tying goal in the third period in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night in Boston. Matt Poitras, who racked up 79 assists and 95 points in 63 games for the Guelph Storm (OHL) last season, now has two goals and two assists in four NHL preseason games.
“He played almost 17 minutes last night, and tonight he was over 18 minutes,” Montgomery said of Poitras in his postgame presser. “So back-to-back with what is uncommon travel that you wouldn’t really see in the regular season. Overall, he competed, right? What you like is that he lost some battles, then he comes back and wins battles. That was a big goal that he scored to tie it up, and he continues to show a lot of poise with the puck.”
While the focus from the media and fans – and rightfully so – has been on Poitras, the Bruins’ 2019 first round pick (30th overall), John Beecher has quietly been building a case to start the season in Boston as well. The University of Michigan product logged 16:15 on Tuesday night and finished with an assist, one shot, four hits, and went 7-6 at the faceoff dot. He also showed some blazing speed coming through the neutral zone and the ability to push the play and carry a line.
“I thought he was really good,” Montgomery said of Beecher. “I thought he won a lot of battles and created offense. He got a lot of good offense from defense, which was something that was very encouraging to see. He played a really good hockey game.”
Lohrei scored his first preseason goal on Tuesday, and the 6-foot-3, 193-pound defenseman has continued to show he can fit in with the up-tempo system the Bruins use that encourages the defense to jump into the play offensively.
“I thought Lohrei was really on his toes,” Montgomery said on Tuesday. “It was the best I’ve seen him jump into the offense, really supporting plays. I really loved his goal because that’s the way we want to play once we get the puck, we want to transition five guys going. It was nice to see a defenseman pass to a defenseman for a goal.”
Here’s the full roster for the Bruins against the Rangers on Thursday night:
Forwards: John Beecher, Jesper Boqvist, Patrick Brown, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Morgan Geekie, A.J. Greer, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Matt Poitras, Oskar Steen, Pavel Zacha
Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Derek Forbort, Matt Grzelyck, Mason Lohrei, Charlie McAvoy, Ian Mitchell, Jakub Zboril
Goaltenders: Brandon Bussi, Jeremy Swayman
Note: The Bruins also announced the following roster moves earlier in the day on Wednesday –
Jayson Megna has been placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment. Trevor Kuntar, Marc McLaughlin, and Georgii Merkulov will report to Providence Bruins Training Camp.