Bruins

Bruins roster projection 3.0: Looking at the B's season-opening roster

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Bruins roster projection 3.0: Looking at the B's season-opening roster

BOSTON — With the Bruins now done with their exhibition season, there isn’t anything left for anybody to do to impress the B’s coaching staff.

A bubble forward like David Backes has probably made the roster based on his strong performance that came to a crescendo with his final preseason appearance in the win over the Devils earlier this week. It’s clear that he put in the work during the summer, and that both he and power forward Brett Ritchie will probably be jostling for the same spot among the top-12 forwards on a nightly basis.

One forward who enjoyed a strong camp, but won’t be cracking the NHL roster to start the season in all likelihood?

It’s Anders Bjork, who did everything he probably needed to do in order to get things back on track after each of his last two seasons were wiped out by shoulder surgeries. Bjork was fast, he was aggressive, he looked stronger on the puck and more willing to engage in the danger areas, and he was able to create some offense as well.

Despite all of this, the 23-year-old Bjork is expected to start the season in Providence. On its face it would appear that Bjork didn’t make the cut, but it’s much more about the B’s being interested in seeing him build back up to a place where he’s really going to help the team in Boston. Consider the boost the Bruins could get from popping Bjork into their lineup later this season if he can regain the offensive mojo that he lost on the surgeon’s table in each of the last two seasons.

That’s what the Bruins are hoping for.

“He was drafted as a scoring winger. He hasn’t been able to do that consistently at the professional level, so we have to determine [whether] he is going to be able to do it here? Or is he better served in Providence, finding that part of his game? What’s going to be better for us in the long run? Do we need him here in the short term? That’s what we balance,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We proved last year we had a good lineup [and] added a center and a winger.

“We’ll have to make that determination, but my guess is [the AHL] is where he will probably end up starting, to work on that part of his game. He had a good training camp, good preseason and he’s healthy, bigger, stronger. So that’ll be just in my preliminary evaluation there, but we’ll sit down again and go over it.”

Otherwise, the only wrinkle for the Bruins lineup is moving things around on the fourth line because Joakim Nordstrom (foot) isn’t going to be ready to start the year on Thursday night in Dallas. It could be as easy as pushing Sean Kuraly over to left wing and essentially having two centers on the energy line with both Kuraly and Par Lindholm able to handle duties there to start off the year.

Otherwise, this should be the group that hits the ice on Oct. 3 provided that David Krejci (lower body) is able to play as the B’s currently think he’ll be able to after tweaking something in preseason action earlier this week:  

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen Charlie Coyle David Backes
Sean Kuraly Par Lindholm Chris Wagner

Scratches: Brett Ritchie

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

Scratch: Steven Kampfer

GOALTENDERS

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Injured: John Moore, Kevan Miller, Joakim Nordstrom

How humbling experience sparked change for Backes>>>>>

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Bruins-Oilers Talking Points: David Pastrnak won't be denied in OT

Bruins-Oilers Talking Points: David Pastrnak won't be denied in OT

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak has some nights when he plays well and there are other nights when he’s the single biggest reason the Bruins win a game. Wednesday night was more the latter than the former as Pastrnak set up Boston’s only goal in regulation and then scored the winner in overtime after breaking behind the Edmonton defense before scoring his 43rd goal.

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Pastrnak finished with a team-high six shots on net and a whopping 13 shot attempts in 18:17 of ice time with a plus-2 rating. Pastrnak was whistled for a tripping call in the final couple of minutes of the third period and seemed to be on a mission from the time he got out of the box prior to getting that OT breakaway chance. There was little doubt he wasn’t going to come through.

BLACK EYE: I don’t know who Patrick Russell is, but he played 3:31 in an OT loss for the Oilers when Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse pulled close to 30 minutes in the game for an injury-ravaged roster. So, perhaps it could have been a different outcome if Russell could have lightened the load for some of Edmonton’s top players.

The truth is, though, that the Oilers are going to struggle for as long as key guys Connor McDavid and James Neal are both out. And there wasn’t much from a negative perspective to write about for the Edmonton players in a competitive game they could have easily won against Boston.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins came out strong in the first minute of the second period, didn’t score but then battened down the hatches for the rest of the middle 20 minutes.

Edmonton outshot the Bruins 18-9 and peppered Tuukka Rask on a few power-play possessions in the period, but the Bruins didn’t buckle under the pressure. Instead, Rask stopped all 18 shots he faced in the second period and wasn’t beaten for a goal until the third when a high deflection made it past the Bruins goaltender.

Part of the reason the B’s eventually picked up the full two points was how well they kept the puck out of the net in the second.

HONORABLE MENTION: Rask has been excellent coming out of the All-Star break and he was that kind of good against the Oilers on Wednesday night. Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots, including making saves on those 18 shots in the second, including a couple of Oilers power plays.

Rask only allowed a deflected goal in the third that tied the score on a shot that he couldn’t have been expected to save. Otherwise, he was perfect and continues to team with Jaroslav Halak to be one of the unquestioned strengths of this team.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-7 – the Bruins went 0-for-7 on the power play in one of the few things to be discouraged about from a B's perspective.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Just a little breakaway, and I saw him try to poke-check so I decided to go five-hole there. Lately, we’ve been good [in overtime] so hopefully, we’re getting some confidence back.” –David Pastrnak, on NESN talking about his overtime game-winner.

 

NHL Highlights: David Pastrnak scores in OT to give Bruins 2-1 win over Oilers

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USA TODAY Sports photo

NHL Highlights: David Pastrnak scores in OT to give Bruins 2-1 win over Oilers

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 2, Oilers 1 (OT)

IN BRIEF: David Pastrnak scored his NHL-leading 43rd goal on a breakaway off a feed from David Krejci with 3:46 remaining in overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton as the B's began their Western Canada trip by winning their fourth in a row and for the 10th time in 11 games.  BOX SCORE 

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BRUINS RECORD: 38-11-12, 88 points (1st in Atlantic Division)

HIGHLIGHTS

LINEMATES SET UP BERGERON FOR 1-0 LEAD:

SAM GAGNER TIES IT UP FOR THE OIL IN 3RD:

KREJCI-TO-PASTA IN OT:


UP NEXT:
@Calgary Flames, Friday, 7 p.m., NESN
@Vancouver Canucks, Saturday, 7 p.m., NESN