Bruins

DeBrusk, McAvoy and Bjork all kick off B's careers with a bang

DeBrusk, McAvoy and Bjork all kick off B's careers with a bang

BOSTON, Mass – If the Bruins were trying to get all of the firsts out of the way in their season opener, they did a pretty good job of it in Thursday night’s win over the Predators. 

Both Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy scored their first NHL goals in their very first regular season games, and Anders Bjork also notched his first career point in Boston’s 3-2 victory at the Garden. Even better both DeBrusk and McAvoy did it in front of their families, including former NHLer Louie DeBrusk wiping away tears in his eyes after watching his boy score in the game’s second period. Particularly for a player like the 20-year-old DeBrusk that wasn’t able to break through for a goal in the preseason, notching one on a nifty little 1-on-1 move at a meaningful moment is something he’ll always remember. 

“[It’s] pretty surreal to be honest. It was one that I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. A little bit of a blur at the moment. Was just trying to make a quick move, and it went in, and the crowd went pretty loud. So I’ll never forget that feeling,” said DeBrusk. “[His dad] is known as a tough guy but I heard that there were some tears coming from him. So it’s a very emotional time, but I’ll be chirping him for a couple of years to come. That’s for sure.”

Those specific, individual moments were obviously special for those rookies, and created personal memories that will last a lifetime. But they also brought an enthusiastic energy to a Bruins team looking for any kind of motivation entering a new season, and eased the pressure each young player was feeling to contribute immediately. 

“I think [it means] a lot. I mean, even when they try to think, ‘yeah okay, I just want to have a good game.’ They still want to get the first one,” said David Pastrnak, who also scored in Thursday night’s opener and can still remember his first NHL goal in a Bruins uniform. “Once you get the first one, first point they can get the thought in their head, ‘I can play in this league.’ 

“You know, instead of game by game going [by] with no points and you start thinking more and more [about it]. I’m talking from my own experience, you know. So, it’s good. I’m really happy for the guys and [I’m glad] they scored.”

Now DeBrusk, McAvoy and Bjork should move into their next few NHL games with a different level of confidence, and the growing belief that they truly belong after getting off to a rousing good start on opening night. 

Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

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Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

As the free agency period of July 1 inches closer, the hype machine for 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk will grow more and more frenzied for teams like the Bruins.

And coach Bruce Cassidy gladly added to it on Tuesday in Las Vegas, telling reporters assembled for the NHL Awards that the Russian winger would be “a nice fit” for the Black and Gold. 

“Yeah, that would be interesting . . . you never want to speculate,” Cassidy said to reporters in Vegas during his press availability as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. “You can’t get too far ahead . . . he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. 

“He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting [talented players] in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”

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The Bruins will be among a handful of teams vying for Kovalchuk, who spend the last five seasons playing in the KHL after bolting the New Jersey Devils and the NHL after the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season. Even at his advanced NHL age, the expectation is that Kovalchuk can still have an impact offensively even if he’s not exactly the same player who posted 37 goals and 83 points in his last full season in Jersey six years ago. 

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger still has the big shot, the scoring ability, the size and the game-breaking skills that made him a former first overall pick in the NHL draft, and it may just be that he has more left in his tank than the younger Rick Nash. Clearly there was a concussion that played a big part in Nash’s time in Boston, but he also didn’t look like the explosive scoring ability was still there like it was in the Columbus/New York power forward’s younger years. 

The Bruins haven’t yet locked in a time when they’ll make their pitch to Kovalchuk’s camp, but it’s expected to happen ahead of the July 1 opening of free agency. Kovalchuk's representatives have already had meetings with teams on the West Coast like the Kings and Sharks. It’s expected that Kovalchuk, 35, be looking at a shorter-term deal making something close to the $6.67 annual salary he was being paid by the Devils when he departed the NHL. 

If Kovalchuk were to land in Boston, he’d fill a need for secondary scoring behind the big guns of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.He would allow the Bruins to keep their top forward line intact while filling a hole on the second line right wing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. 

With the news that next season’s salary cap is going to be in the $79-80 million range, the Bruins will also have somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million in cap space for their offseason shopping list. That should give them plenty of room to sign Kovalchuk to a short-term deal and still address the other openings on their NHL roster, including third-line center and a backup goaltender. Still, Kovalchuk would be the big fish, and that’s why the talk about him is front and center.

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Bruins open home season with a day game against Ottawa

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Bruins open home season with a day game against Ottawa

The Bruins normally start the home portion of their schedule with a festive Opening Night celebration. But not this year.

This year, it'll be an Opening Day ceremony.

The Columbus Day matinee makes it a rare day opener for the B's. But they'll have had a normal Opening Night before that, and what a night it figures to be:

(The Caps say Banner 'Day' since they'll be raising their Stanley Cup championship flag, but since Oct. 3 is a Wednesday -- and since this is opening game of the entire NHL schedule -- the assumption is it'll be played at night.)

The NHL will release the full schedule tomorrow, but teams are being allowed to Tweet out the dates of their home openers. So, in addition to the season opener in Washington and the home opener against the Senators, we know two other game dates for the Bruins:

And tomorrow, we'll know the whole thing.