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. 

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

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Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

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