Bruins

Short-handed Bruins go all in in victory over Wild

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Short-handed Bruins go all in in victory over Wild

BOSTON -- Somehow the Bruins are managing to survive, and even thrive at times, despite an injury list that keeps growing with each passing day.

The shorthanded B's banked two more points in their 5-3 win over the equally banged-up Minnesota Wild on Monday night at TD Garden, and have now taken points in seven of their last eight games. Some of it is about fill-ins stepping up and getting the job done, some of it is about the youth movement coming through intermittently, some of it is about Boston's core group pulling the rest of the team along, and some of it is about a team displaying a ton of heart and character.

The Bruins showed all of those things after initially falling behind Minnesota by a goal in the first period, and they displayed those enviable qualities in battling back from deficits against both Columbus and Washington over the last week, as well. Habitually falling behind isn't a recipe for success, but the Bruins will take whatever they can get with a bare-bones roster that looks more like an AHL team.

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Clearly it's a small sample size of games with the season barely a month old, but the Bruins refusing to throw in the towel is becoming a trend.

"You're starting to see that personality of our hockey club that we are not going to be an easy out," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "We are going to keep ourselves in games, and work hard to get back in games. Some nights it's going to work out, and some nights it's not. That would be a great personality to have on the team. It just shows the character of the group."

It's interesting to note the Bruins lost Saturday when David Pastrnak accounted for all of Boston's, but won Monday with five different goal-scorers. Certainly they'll count on Jake DeBrusk, who opened Boston's barrage with his third goal of the season, but it was all secondary offense after that, with Frank Vatrano, Sean Kuraly, Torey Krug and Tim Schaller doing the rest of the goal-scoring.

The Bruins were rewarded with the first two assists of Jordan Szwarz's NHL career, and they got hardnosed, physical play from guys like Matt Beleskey, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara against Minnesota after getting pushed around by Washington last weekend.

It's exactly the kind of diversified scoring and offense that Boston is going to need while missing three of its top six forwards (David Krejci, David Backes and Brad Marchand). The trick will be duplicating it through the month of November, with 8 of their 12 opponents having made the playoffs last season. That doesn't leave a lot of room for error while waiting for reinforcements over the next few weeks, but that's the Bruins' lot whether they like it or not.

"We prepare for the games," said Chara. "It's just happens that we are missing some guys. But we can't be feeling sorry for ourselves. We accepted a few days ago that everything is going to be battling, or facing some kind of challenge with injuries, missing players. But like I said earlier, I think it's a great chance for our players to step up, and they did. They played really well. We had a really good team effort. That's important that you don't always rely on the same guy. It's other guys stepping up and making big contributions."

It's a time-honored hockey platitude that injuries are simply an opportunity for somebody else to step up. Normally it's a hackneyed cliché, but stepping up is exactly what's happening as the Bruins have posted a 6-4-3 record in their first 13 games without even once boasting their full lineup. Undoubtedly there's room for improvement -- and it will be a much different story when they finally get healthy -- but for now they're hoping for a steady stream of grind-it-out games just like Monday's all-in win over the Wild.

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Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 OT loss to Red Wings

Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 OT loss to Red Wings

FINAL SCORE: Red Wings 4, Bruins 3 (OT)

IN BRIEF: Down 3-1 in the third period, the Bruins got a swift strike from Daniel Winnik (4:34) and a power-play goal from Axel Andersson (14:37) to force overtime, where Detroit’s Evgeny Svechnikov won it just 1:42 into the extra frame.

BRUINS PRESEASON RECORD: 4-0-1

HOW OVERTIME WAS WON:

WHAT'S NEXT: The Bruins kick off their final week of preseason games Monday in Philadelphia against the Flyers, before heading home for two final exhibitions against the Red Wings (Wednesday) and Flyers (Saturday).

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Taking a shot at what the Bruins opening night roster might look like

Taking a shot at what the Bruins opening night roster might look like

BRIGHTON, Mass. - With the Bruins training camp finally on the same continent and the team together for the first time, things are beginning to feel a lot more like an NHL training camp.

It certainly felt that way on Friday when Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the Boston media for the first time and then again on Saturday when Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and David Pastrnak were back working out at Warrior Ice Arena. So now is the time to get real about competition for open spots on the NHL roster and to start prognosticating which lines and pairings will be rolled out Oct. 3 on opening night in Washington.

To this point, Cassidy said that nobody has played their way off the NHL roster four games into the preseason and that sets up an interesting battlefield for candidates in the final four exhibition games starting tonight vs. the Detroit Red Wings.

“The veteran guys won’t play on Saturday and there’s quite a few that won’t play on Monday either, so we’re looking at a week together with a couple of home preseason games to maybe look at our lineup a little bit more,” said Cassidy. “So, Monday we’ll get another look and then we’ll decide how we’re shaping up here. By then you’re hoping that now we’re looking at where [Sean] Kuraly fits in, and hopefully [Bergeron] is ready to go by then. Who is Krejci’s linemate going to be on the right side? So now we’re looking at one of the guys that’s here and whether they’ll fit in with him. It could go down to the wire for one or two spots, but Monday is a big day for some of those guys.”

One of the biggest questions facing this roster is whether to keep Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand together on the top line, or whether it’s better to slide Pastrnak in with Krejci to make two offensively dangerous forward lines. Much of it depends on the performance of the younger candidates on the wing, and thus far, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato have performed well while vying for one of those right-wing spots.

Then there’s the third-line center vacancy left by the departure of Riley Nash. That's potentially up for competition among a number of players including Chris Wagner, Kuraly, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka. Studnicka fared well centering Marchand and Pastrnak in China, and both Frederic and JFK had their moments centering potential NHL forward lines overseas as well. To this point, the Bruins kiddie corps has all done exceedingly well and that’s something that has all of them still standing as viable candidates.

“I think Donato was good in Game One. Game Two he made some plays and had some turnovers...the usual stuff that we work on with the young guys, but I love his initiative. He’s a guy that loves to make things happen,” said Cassidy. “JFK had pockets of really good shifts, and other teams he was tentative where we had to remind him it’s a 60-minute game. But again they are young guys. Frederic was very good on the kill with Backes, who has been his partner. He scored a goal, so offensively they all chipped in.

“Jack [Studnicka] had a little penalty trouble. I’m not sure he deserved all of them, but he’s learning that hands and sticks have to stay off the body. But again he’s 19 years old. Urho Vaakanainen played one game and he was pretty efficient. He’s a pretty smooth player as well.”

As lineups get more veteran-laden and the intensity ramps up in final four preseason games, here’s a first glance at what the Bruins roster might look like Oct. 3 against the Capitals:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Donato
Heinen-JFK-Backes
Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Moore-Miller

Rask
Halak

The toughest omission is obviously Matt Grzelcyk on the back end after a strong rookie campaign, but the bottom line with Boston’s defensemen is that there’s going to be a good player sitting every night. Up front, Anders Bjork is the biggest name kept off, but his shoulder injury has put him behind Donato and Heinen, who have played very well in the preseason.

The biggest feature is keeping together Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak and that just comes down to maintaining an advantage that the Bruins will have over just about every team with a trio that can dominate at both ends of the ice. It would be easier to find a right winger that can make things go on the second line than recreating the magic of the Perfection Line using different forwards, so there’s a strong argument to be made for keeping the top group together for the long haul.  

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