Chara, Bergeron headline the Bruins group who'll skip China trip

Chara, Bergeron headline the Bruins group who'll skip China trip

BOLTON, Mass. – The Bruins will be sending a large contingent of their NHL roster over to China for a week-plus trip that will include a couple of preseason games against the Calgary Flames September 15 and 19. Still, there will be several notable absences from the traveling contingent.

The B's 41-year-old captain Zdeno Chara will stay behind in Boston along with Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Anders Bjork and Noel Acciari, who will stay behind with the Bruins training staff to rehab injuries. Sean Kuraly and Danton Heinen will also remain in Boston after they manned the Bruins goodwill trip to China earlier this summer.  

Bergeron (groin surgery), Krug (fractured ankle), Bjork (shoulder surgery) and Acciari (sports hernia surgery) may not be ready to play preseason games at the beginning of the schedule, so it didn’t make sense for the Black and Gold to truck them all the way to China.

“Chara isn’t going...Noel Acciari...Torey Krug. [Bergeron, Acciari and Krug] are injury-related. We knew they’d be skating now and we’d assume they’ll all be ready, but if they’re not able to play games it’s a long way to go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “I’m not saying they will or won’t be able to play games, but [that was the thinking] when we made this decision a month ago. Kuraly and Heinen won’t go simply because they went in July and to save on the wear and tear [of travel].

“But we’re bringing the three young centers [Jack Studnicka, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic] because we’d like to see them over there. That’s the reason we’re taking them; we think there’s going to be some internal competition for that third line center position. [Kuraly] and Chris Wagner will certainly be in that mix as well, so that’s the five guys that are regulars.”

As for Chara, the idea of traveling from a European time zone to East Coast time and then zipping over to China for the roughly 12-hour time difference wasn’t something he was particularly looking forward to at the start of an 82-game season. So the 6-foot-9 D-man will instead stick behind and lead the young crew expected to work under the watchful eye of assistant coach Joe Sacco while Cassidy, Jay Pandolfo and goaltending coach Bob Essensa all head to China with the rest of the team.

“I was asked early in May or June if I would like to go, and I said I wouldn’t mind it. But now it’s just kind of that I’m totally okay staying back. I’m not sad or upset about it,” said Chara, who seemed to pretty clearly prefer staying behind in Boston. “I’m kind of glad I’m staying back. I don’t have to deal with the travel and the different time zones. I’ve just come back from Europe, so I know the guys will be dealing with quite a few time differences when they go out there and then when they come back.

“I can always enjoy some more time being in Boston. There is plenty of time to [visit China] later on so I’m not worried about it.”

Given Chara’s clear preference, it does beg the question as to how such a globe-trotting trip is going to impact the Black and Gold early in the season. The good news is that two of the most important Bruins -- Bergeron and Chara -- will be skipping all of the festivities, but that isn’t going to save the rest of the team from potential early-season fatigue after returning home a couple of weeks before the October 3 season-opener in Washington.

The Bruins began a partnership with Beijing-based O.R.G. Packaging in 2015. They first hosted Chinese youth hockey players for clinics in Boston in 2016 and had a contingent, including David Pastrnak, travel to China that same year to conduct clinics there. Last year, Torey Krug joined Pastrnak and other Bruins past and present who held clinics in Beijing and Shanghai. 



Talking Points: Rask's first period doesn't give B's a chance to win

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Talking Points: Rask's first period doesn't give B's a chance to win

The Bruins' Western Canada road trip got off to an uninspiring start Wednesday night in Calgary. Here are my talking points from the Bruins' 5-2 loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome:

GOLD STAR: It’s got to be Micheal Frolik with two of the first four goals scored for the Flames early in the game when they took full control of the proceedings. Frolik scored the first goal at the end of a beautiful passing play where he was open at the front of the net, and then he connected with Michael Backlund on another score that gave Calgary some breathing room in the second period. In all Frolik finished with the two goals and a plus-3 rating in 16:07 of ice time, and three shots on net, one hit, one takeaway and a perfect 2-for-2 in the face-off circle. It was a nice turnaround for Frolik after he was a recent healthy scratch for the Flames, and exactly the kind of response that a coach is looking for from a player.


BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask can ill afford one bad goal in a game, and he had two bad goals allowed in the first period that really sunk the Bruins in this one. The first Calgary goal was a nice piece of passing that ended with an open shot in front, so there wasn’t much blame on that one. But Rask had an awful rebound on a Noah Hanifin tester that turned into a Johnny Gaudreau goal, and then seconds later he completely fumbled away a Juuso Valimaki point shot that he just plain missed with his glove hand. Those two soft goals put the Bruins down 3-0 in the first period, and essentially served as the difference in the game ,as the Bruins were down by two goals in the third period before the late empty netter made the 5-2 final score. Rask allowed four goals on 28 shots in total and was better later in the game, but he didn’t give the team a chance with the way he played in the first.

TURNING POINT: The turning point was the two Calgary goals scored within 48 seconds of each other in the first period when Tuukka Rask had a mini-meltdown in the middle of the game. Johnny Gaudreau scored his 100th career NHL goal after Rask gave up a juicy rebound in front of his own net, and then less than a minute later Rask whiffed on a Juuso Valimaki point shot that turned into that player’s first NHL goal. Once that flurry was over the Bruins were down by a 3-0 score and really didn’t have any chance of winning the game despite scoring a few goals and at least making a competitive game out of it. For all intents and purposes, the game was over after those two goals and the biggest surprise was that Rask didn’t get pulled out of the game at that point.  

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Highlights from Bruins' 5-2 loss to Flames

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Highlights from Bruins' 5-2 loss to Flames

FINAL SCORE: Flames 5, Bruins 2

IN BRIEF: Michael Frolik scored two goals to lead the Calgary Flames, who led 3-0 after 16 minutes and never looked back en route to a 5-2 victory. Patrice Bergeron was brilliant in the second period, having a hand in both of Boston's goals. BOX SCORE 

- Michael Frolik, Calgary (2 goals)
2 - Patrice Bergeron, Boston (1 goal, 1 assist)
3 - Jusso Valimaki, Calgary (1 goal)

HAGGERTY: Rask's first period doesn't give Bruins a chance to win



TIC . . . TAC . . . TOE . . . OH NO



THURSDAY: At Edmonton, 9 p.m. ET (NESN)
SATURDAY: At Vancouver, 10 p.m. ET (NESN)
TUESDAY: At Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. ET (NESN)

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