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Bruins can't pull off any magic in shutout loss to Panthers

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Bruins can't pull off any magic in shutout loss to Panthers

SUNRISE, Florida – The Bruins were about due for one of those duds after the injuries and an arduous schedule began piling on them this month.

That finally happened on Thursday night in Florida as there was no comeback, and no third period hat tricks and instead there was just a 3-0 shutout loss to James Reimer and the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center. It was only the second time all season that the Bruins have been shut out (and the first since the second game of the season on October 9), though that clearly becomes a bit of an easier chore for another team when Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk are missing from the lineup. 

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To add insult to injury, David Backes was also bounced from the game midway through the first period with a match penalty after a big neutral zone hit on Vincent Trocheck. Before and after that hit, though, it was all Florida in the game as Aaron Ekblad tapped in a backdoor goal to open up the scoring in the first period. 

The Panthers caught Bruins defenseman Nick Holden napping later in the first period as Evgenii Dadonov hooked up with Nick Bjugstad on a goal at the far post after big Bjugstad beat Holden in a foot race to the net. The Panthers extended that lead in the second period after an iffy goalie interference penalty call on Rick Nash gave Florida a power play, and Trocheck finished things off with a sniper shot to the top corner of the net.

Down by three goals in the third period, there was no thrilling and death-defying comeback this time around. Instead it was James Reimer that enjoyed a strong night stopping all 46 shots that he faced while playing one of his best games of the season against the Black and Gold.

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Bummed about the Patriots? No worries, the Bruins are back

Bummed about the Patriots? No worries, the Bruins are back

Boy, it sure feels like the NHL season can’t come fast enough in a place like Boston right about now.

Hot on the heels of another deflating, depressing  Patriots loss, where it feels like the team is going through the motions in September, the Black and Gold are little more than a week away from opening against the reigning Stanley Cup champs in Washington next Wednesday, Oct. 3.

The Bruins certainly aren’t perfect and will be challenged to surpass the Lightning and Maple Leafs as top dog in the Atlantic Division, but we’re also talking about a young, exciting group with a proven championship core coming off 112 points last season.

This is a Bruins team that’s going to be in the playoffs, it’s a Bruins team that’s got some of the best, most exciting players in the league and it’s a Bruins team that’s going to be fun to watch as it wins a lot of games.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney alluded to the excitement around the B’s when John Tavares chose them as one of his select free-agent suitors over the summer before he chose to sign with Toronto.

“It’s, obviously, a reflection of our current players and a testament to them. I think stylistically, to our coaches, to the organization, to the support from ownership, with this [new practice] facility, overall, it’s a reflection of our entire organization,” said Sweeney. “I’ve said all along, it’s about winning. That’s the mandate that we’re trying to put forward to all of our players, whether it was the development camp guys or the highest-level free agency players that we’re trying to attract and to be a part of what we’re trying to do.”

It sure doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of that optimism abounding in Foxboro right now with a couple of diva players being treated differently than the rest of the team and a whole lot less talent on both sides of the ball than there was a year or two ago.

There won’t be any drama about one of the players threatening to retire if he’s on the verge of being traded and there isn’t any war of egos between the GM, coach and ownership group. Certainly, some of that sells and makes things more interesting in the sports media world, but that just isn’t typically the way of doing things when it comes to hockey people in the NHL world.

So, fear not, Boston sports fans, if the Patriots are disheartening you after back-to-back stinkers against Jacksonville and Detroit. Tonight marks the first of three final preseason games this week before the NHL roster gets finalized. Next week the B's start playing for keeps. 

The Bruins are back and they will disappoint you a lot less this season with a team that’s got a chance to be even better than last season’s exciting, resilient group that was, more importantly, a blast to watch. 

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Bjork nearing game action, but is it too late for an NHL spot?

Bjork nearing game action, but is it too late for an NHL spot?

BRIGHTON, Mass  -- It’s been a bit of a slow go of it for Anders Bjork in Bruins training camp this fall while coming back from shoulder surgery, and that’s beginning to make an impact on the youngster’s chances of cracking the NHL roster at the start of the season.

It’s no fault of Bjork’s obviously as returning from shoulder surgery is no easy feat in a game where heavy contact to the shoulders is an everyday experience. But as the former Notre Dame standout hasn’t been fully cleared by the medical staff to play in games, he’s fallen behind peers like Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato in the battle for a couple of open top-9 winger spots among the forward group.

Bjork did take some contact in 3-on-3 drills at practice on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena and is expected to have a doctor’s appointment this week where he could get clearance to play in games.

That’s a better place to be in than Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Fitzgerald, Sean Kuraly, Martin Bakos and Jakub Zboril all currently sitting out practice with injuries, but the odds are getting more likely his season will start in Providence.

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“He’s kind of been in the practices and held out here or there. If I’m not mistaken he’s got an appointment tomorrow that might clarify a little more of where the next step is for him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who did have Bjork skating in a pretty good spot on the right side with Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson at practice on Sunday. “Hopefully that leads to some games for him because it’s tough to make the team if you don’t play any exhibition games if you’re in his position. [Bergeron] is a different animal and [Torey Krug] too because they’ve both been here, but for Bjork he’s probably going to need to play some games. Hopefully he gets that opportunity.”

Bjork was keeping a pretty good approach to the slow, deliberate approach to this fall’s training camp, but undoubtedly knows he’s got a couple of big games at the end of this week to show what he can do before the roster gets cut down.

“I’m feeling good. I’m still technically not cleared for games at this point, which is a little bit frustrating to be honest with you,” said Bjork, who had four goals and 12 points in 30 games last season. “I think the doctors have experience with this and they’re smart, so I have trust in them and trust in the coaching staff as well. It’s good to get a little antsy to play, and that’s building up with me for sure. We’re in the thick of camp, so I’m excited to get things going.”

For a player like Bjork that’s still developing, it might not be the worst thing in the world to start at the AHL level and get plenty of playing time rather than be a 22-year-old playing a potentially sporadic role at the NHL level.