Bruins open camp prepared for 'higher expectations'

Bruins open camp prepared for 'higher expectations'

BRIGHTON, Mass. - As Bruins training camp begins here with fitness testing and physicals on Thursday morning, the biggest early storyline is, of course, the return of David Pastrnak to the fold after he agreed to a six-year, $40 million contract.

Still, there is plenty more to Boston’s camp with a team full of players that pushed back into the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, a new coach overseeing his first NHL camp in more than a decade and a boatload of young prospects that the Bruins are relying on to make an impact this coming season. There will be open position battles for the left wing spot alongside David Krejci and the right wing position aside Boston’s dynamic duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and plenty of questions about where young D-men Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy will fit into Boston’s defensive pairings.


All of this more will play out over the next month as the Bruins prepare for a season where the playoffs will become a goal of obligation and moving beyond the first round becomes the aim of this group.

“We definitely had a better year last year than a lot of people thought we would have, and we definitely came along,” said Brad Marchand, coming off a Hart Trophy-worthy season where he posted a team-leading 39 goals and 85 points in 80 games. “It’s been exciting even in the last few captain’s practices to watch the young guys and what they’ve been able to do, the skill they have and what they’re going to be able to bring to the table.

“It will be fun to watch them grow, help the team and hopefully we can make another stride this coming year. There are definitely higher expectations, but I’m not going to put that on me. Things really clicked well last year, but it’s more about being prepared every game, working hard and hoping that things go well for everyone.”

The one big thing the Bruins have working for them is their strong, battled-hardened core with Marchand, a healthy Patrice Bergeron, an aging Zdeno Chara, a motivated Tuukka Rask, a playmaking David Krejci with something to prove and a rock-solid David Backes leading the way with kids -  Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and a few youngsters to be named later following behind them. They will be tested with the expectation that the team will be a half-step better after last season and they will be challenged by an Eastern Conference that is going to be much more difficult than last season.

The Atlantic Division was not strong last season, but it will be much tougher this year with Tampa Bay and Florida both expected to rebound strongly, Toronto on the rise with their young stars and both Montreal and Ottawa lying in wait as the possible best teams at the top of the heap. Even the Buffalo Sabres will be much improved from what they were last season. That means the B’s are going to have to markedly better if they expect to push into the playoffs for the second season in a row.

“It will be nice to all be on the same page and all start together for the first day of training camp and start building something together,” said Bergeron. “It’s exciting from an organizational standpoint, and for us as players you want to bring out the best mix of guys on the ice together to be successful. That’s really all that matters.”

It remains to be seen how the roster is going to fit together, but the Bruins sound hungry and have something to prove after getting that sweet, late-season taste of success again. Now, it’s up to the Black and Gold to build on that and meet “the higher expectations” they know are waiting for them once the regular season starts. 

Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself


Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching the Montreal Canadiens crash and burn in the Atlantic Division.  

*Max Pacioretty is certainly falling on his sword up in Montreal calling himself “the worst one on the ice” as the Habs really struggle to get going this season.

*Brad Marchand was on the Twitter machine after Thursday night’s win and having some fun with what his video game controller probably looks like when he plays hockey.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of the Erik Gudbranson boarding hit on Frank Vatrano from last night that looks like it’s going to get the Vancouver D-man suspended.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still adjusting to the changes that are taking place with the Arizona Coyotes as they struggle in the desert.

*The Maple Leafs are looking and acting like contenders early on up in Toronto, and that would be a very good thing for the NHL.

*For something completely different: The Backstreet Boys are going country? Now I’ve definitely seen it all.


Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s leg is broken, will have surgery Monday

BRIGHTON, Mass – Another serious injury has hit the Bruins in the first few weeks of the season.

Adam McQuaid’s right leg is broken, he'll have surgery Monday and he’ll miss some significant time after he blocked a shot that knocked him out of the Thursday night victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The rugged, stay-at-home defenseman took multiple pucks of in successive games off his leg in the past two games against the Golden Knights and the Canucks.


Bruins GM Don Sweeney, in a Bruins statement released after practice Friday, said McQuaid sustained a broken right fibula and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday at Mass. General Hospital. He is expected to miss approximately eight weeks.

It’s a tough blow for McQuaid, 31, after he was able to play 77 games last season before missing the playoffs with an injury and has consistently battled injuries in his career while playing a hard-nosed, fearless brand of hockey.

“Adam [McQuaid] is seeing the doctors as we speak, so there will be an announcement about him,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier Friday at practice. “With Bergie [Patrice Bergeron] it’s a maintenance day where we felt it would be better after 20 minutes of ice to let it rest, and the same with [David] Krejci. Miller is a maintenance day as well. He got whacked, but he should be fine as well. We’ll have a better idea in the morning, but we expect all of the [maintenance players] to play.”

Bergeron, David Krejci and Kevan Miller were all missing from practice on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was maintenance days for all as they’re expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. 

Tuukka Rask is out indefinitely while in the concussion protocol after his practice collision earlier this week, but the good news is that Bruins goaltender was up and around at the practice facility on Friday rather than at home convalescing in a dark room.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the Black and Gold with a few bodies missing from practice: