Friday, September 27, 2013

Final Week of Preseason

The NHL preseason is nearing its conclusion. Several teams have a pretty good idea about what their respective rosters are going to look like come opening night in October. 

If you are keeping track of your team at home, you would know that the Boston Bruins are one of those teams.

There are two spots still open on the third line. Carl Soderberg is one of the front-runners to nab a spot on that line next to Chris Kelly. As far as the right wing spot is concerned, newcomer Reilly Smith has impressed. He was one of the players who came over with Loui Eriksson from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. Although Smith has not put up the numbers so far in the preseason, his solid two-way play has looked great in camp. 

Also, Chad Johnson and Niklas Svedberg are in a dead heat for the backup goaltender job. By the end of this week, we should have a better understanding as to who has emerged ahead. 

Speaking of this week, the Bruins had three more preseason games to complete, starting on Monday when they faced the Washington Capitals yet again. They finished up the week with two games against the Winnipeg Jets. 

In a fight-filled contest, Boston knocked off Washington in overtime by a final score of 3-2 at the TD Garden. Kelly scored the game-winning goal while Zdeno Chara netted a couple of power play goals for the B's. This was a "shooting spree" for the Bruins as they out-shot the Capitals 38-14 in this game. Overall, the Capitals looked ridiculous, searching for fights all game long in unnecessary fashion.

In regards to their two games with the Jets, the Bruins looked sharp. They took the first game by a score of 3-2 after Eriksson netted the game-winning goal in overtime. Ryan Spooner, who assisted on the goal, also scored in the game. Svedberg looked solid in net for Boston as well.

In Friday's game, the B's shut out the Jets with a final score of 5-0. Five different goal scorers got on the board. The Bruins finished 6-1-0 in their seven "tune-up" games, which is not a bad showing at all.

Overall, the 2013-14 NHL preseason has been intense and quite testy. Several young players around the league have been pushing the limits trying to make the teams of their respective franchises. Also, there have been numerous huge hits and a plethora of fights. Heck, even Torey Krug dropped the gloves for the Bruins.

Bring on the regular season. 

Torey Krug dropping the gloves... 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Opening Week (Preseason)

Well, that was quite a performance by the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

Although it was only the first of several preseason games against sub-par competition, things seemed to be looking good for this team. In fact, several questions were answered. 

Jarome Iginla gelled nicely with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the top line. Also, the backup goaltender situation appears to be pretty solid as the B's have some options they can turn to when it comes to support for their franchise netminder. 

The biggest surprise was the resurface of a dominant power play. Four of the six goals scored against the Montreal Canadiens came with the man advantage. The Bruins hoped to continue their momentum throughout the rest of the week. 

Tuesday night featured the B's second unit of players taking the ice against the Washington Capitals. Among those players was newcomer Loui Eriksson, who came over from Dallas in the deal that involved Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. 

Due to the game between the Bruins and Capitals being contested in a non-NHL arena, the game was not shown live on local television. Therefore, referring to Twitter for updates had to be done. 

Tuukka Rask and Niklas Svedberg split goaltending duties for Boston on Tuesday night. In a game that went back and forth with skittish play and sloppy puck possession, Carter Camper scored in the 8th round of the shootout to give Boston the 3-2 win over the Caps. 

In the midst of a couple rounds of cuts, the Bruins wasted little time catching their breaths. The B's ended their week with a home-and-home series against the Detroit Red Wings, their new divisional rival. They dropped Thursday's game 8-2 while on Saturday, they got some retribution by blanking the Red Wings 2-0. Carl Soderberg had a pair of goals in the win. With Detroit, Boston ran into solid goaltending and better neutral zone play. However, that is why training camp and the preseason lasts as long as it does. Whatever kinks need to be worked out, they usually do.

*Gregory Campbell made his preseason debut on Thursday after missing several months with what is now being considered the "iconic" broken leg sequence during last year's Eastern Conference Finals. Patrice Bergeron made his return on Saturday after recovering from various injuries that he sustained during last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.   

Jarome Iginla's 1st goal as a Bruin (Preseason)

Still weird to see this.....

Monday, September 16, 2013

They're Baaaaaaaack

This may be hard to imagine, but this is the perfect parallel to draw when is comes to preseason sports....

How many fans actually care about preseason football? Do many individuals turn into spring training games? What about those meaningless basketball games in early October? Preseason games, arguably, mean very little to very many. 

However, this is the city of Boston, a city known for its hockey.

Beantown has been notoriously anxious about the start of the upcoming season for the Boston Bruins. Yes, this will be a full 82-game marathon this time around. This will also be the debut season of the new NHL realignment that will feature four "mini" conferences. In addition, everyone will play everyone multiple times. We will see teams at the TD Garden that do not come through here often and that is a real treat. 

That will happen soon enough. To kick off this preseason, the B's were in action on Monday against a team they are all too familiar with...the Montreal Canadiens. This was the first of four preseason games played by the B's this week.

The Bruins did go out and add a couple of key pieces in addition to re-signing their core players. All of those stories, including the plethora of ones regarding their key departures, have been covered all throughout the summer. There is no need to harp on the obvious. With that being said, there is another story to keep an eye on this year. How will the "new-look" B's match up against the Habs? 

The Canadiens are poised to make a legitimate run at Lord Stanley's Cup this upcoming June. Just like for the Bruins, the first step to that journey for Montreal began on Monday night.

This was a split-squad exhibition that featured a mixture of veterans and "young bloods" from both sides. While Carey Price got the start in net for the Habs, Chad Johnson was in net for the Bruins.

Johnson, the expected back-up goaltender for Tuukka Rask this season, allowed three goals in just 30 minutes of work. He was pulled for Malcolm Subban mid-way through the second period and held the Canadiens scoreless. 

Nick Johnson recorded two goals for the Bruins in this game. He certainly made his case to earn a spot on the roster come October. Also, Jarome Iginla got on the scoring sheet for the Black and Gold by netting two goals himself. Milan Lucic and Torey Krug each recorded three assists in the 6-3 victory.

On the other hand, Carl Soderberg played very recklessly and picked up a couple of silly penalties in this game. Even though he is only in his second year in the NHL, he is 27 years of age. His window for impressing management is narrowing and he needs to play better.

The Bruins will be in action three more times this week, starting on Tuesday when they take on the Washington Capitals.