Brandon Carlo

Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

BOSTON -- The good, the bad, and the ugly from the Bruins' 4-2 exhibition win over the Red Wings Monday night at TD Garden:

GOLD STAR: Austin Czarnik once again showed that he can really put on a show during training camp after winning an NHL job last season based on his strong preseason. Czarnik finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating in 15:15 of ice time, created a penalty shot situation solely based on his skating speed and perfectly executed a 3-on-1 late in the third period while feeding a one-timer dish to Teddy Purcell for the insurance marker. Czarnik tied David Pastrnak with a team-high four shots on net for the night, and won 8-of-15 draws for the Bruins while manning his natural center position. Czarnik showed once again that he can play effectively when he’s motoring at a high pace and playing aggressive hockey, a couple of things he didn’t always do with the Bruins once the routine of the NHL regular season settled in last year.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo didn’t have a particularly terrible night, but he did end up as the only Bruins player with a negative plus/minus. Carlo was on the ice for both goals scored by Detroit, and otherwise didn’t really factor into the game while clocking in a solid 17:48 of ice time. His only other major contribution was an interference call halfway through the first period that put the Wings on the power play. Carlo was playing without his usual partner, Zdeno Chara, of course, and one of the remaining questions about the 21-year-old D-man is exactly how good he can be as a shutdown defenseman when he doesn’t have the big captain on his left side. Clearly, it was a good night overall for the B’s, but Carlo was far from his best in his preseason debut.

TURNING POINT: Nobody would have blamed the Bruins if they were a little frustrated after outshooting the Red Wings by a 13-8 margin, and not seeing any points up on the board. Instead of getting frustrated they kept working and finally busted through with a pair of goals within 90 seconds of each other in the second frame. Ryan Fitzgerald finished off the first chance off a nice dish from Jakub Zboril, and Danton Heinen followed by banging home a backdoor dish from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson across the ice. The two goals from two of Boston’s young forward group pushed the B’s out to a lead that they would never relinquish against Detroit.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jakub Zboril probably hasn’t received some of the fanfare of the other first-round picks in Bruins camp, but the skilled, improving D-man played an excellent first preseason game for the Black and Gold. It was Zboril’s one-man rush from his defense position that helped set up his creative dish to a wide-open Ryan Fitzgerald for Boston’s first goal, and he followed that up with 19:12 of mostly solid ice time. Zboril finished with the assist and a plus-2 rating along with a shot on net and a registered hit while also playing a special teams role on both the power play and the penalty kill. Zboril is still working on the polish to his game that will eventually make him an effective pro, but he was noticeable in a good way in his first preseason action of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the team-leading number of shot attempts for David Pastrnak in his first action of the preseason while skating with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Who is hard on the puck? Who is winning pucks? Who can keep their pace up? I think [the young forwards] are all capable of making plays, the young skilled guys. You can probably list seven or eight that have talent and could make NHL plays.” – Bruce Cassidy, on what he’s looking for out of B’s forward prospects that want to win NHL jobs. 

Sweeney, Bruins interested in re-upping Chara beyond this season

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Sweeney, Bruins interested in re-upping Chara beyond this season

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly looks like this season isn’t going to be Black and Gold swan song for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara.

The Bruins captain celebrated B’s training camp fitness testing on Thursday morning with a team-high 25 pull-ups and then was happy to talk about preliminary contract extension talks he’s held with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

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Sweeney indicated the negotiation will likely carry over into the season as the team gets a front row look at Chara as a shutdown defenseman at 40. Still, a short-term extension is almost a formality provided the 6-foot-9 defenseman can remain healthy and repeat the solid success of last season.

“Zee, I’ve had talks with him. He has indicated to us that he would like to keep playing, and we have indicated to him that we would like him to keep playing for the Boston Bruins,” said Sweeney. “As we go through camp and as we go through the regular season, we’ll continue to have those talks. But I thought it was important to let him know we’re in his corner in that regard.”

Clearly, the days of being a Norris Trophy finalist and the massive contract extensions are a thing of the past for one of the NHL’s oldest active players, but a short term one-to-two-year contract at $3 million-to-$4-million-per-season is well within the realm of possibility. The $4 million figure is actually Chara’s salary for this season at the end of the lengthy contract extension he signed prior to the start of the 2010-11 season.

Chara said he was happy to hear he’s still in the Bruins plans and it’s clear he’s okay with his evolution into more of a shutdown D-man with reduced minutes and a lesser offensive role that includes minimal power play time. One can envision Chara taking on a No. 3 or No. 4 defenseman spot if he remains with the Bruins and watching as youngsters like Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy start to take on a little more of the heavy lifting on the back end.

“We reached out and had brief talks. The interest is on both sides,” said Chara. “I’ll be more than happy to stay with this organization that I signed with in 2006. I’m thrilled to be part of this organization and I want to continue to play beyond this season. Right now, it’s going to be about the team and how we get ready for the regular season.”

Certainly, Chara and the Bruins will be happy if he lands somewhere near the 10 goals and 29 points along with a plus-18 rating in 75 games that he accomplished last season while paired with 20-year-old Carlo. 

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.

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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.