BUFFALO — The Bruins' rookies finally saw game action Sunday night, and camp invitee Matt Mistele made his Black-and-Gold debut, centered by another invitee, Domenic Commisso, 18, who is the youngest of the two dozen kids in Boston's camp.
It was the first taste of quasi-NHL action for many of the youngsters, who squared off against the New Jersey Devils as part of a round-robin tournament that includes the Sabres.
Mistele, age 20 and originally a Los Angeles draft pick, was not signed by the Kings this year, two years after his draft year, and therefore became an unrestricted free agent. He has the size and skill set to contend for a spot at power forward.
"We followed him all last year, and he really had a good year,'' said longtime Boston talent evaluator Scott Bradley, impressed by Mistele's play with Sarnia in junior hockey. "He has finish, really good finish. He is a cycle guy who's very good around the net. His skating needs to pick up, but I think he's worked on that.''
Mistele has long been a fan of Logan Couture, the San Jose Sharks standout, who also needed to work diligently to make his skating NHL suitable. Bradley noted that the same was true of Luc Robitaille, the LA Kings Hall of Famer, whose unconventional skating gait and middle-of-the-road speed did not deter him from being a first-class sniper (668 career goals).
"We've liked what we've seen,'' Bradley said prior to faceoff here. "He's not going to be a very good skater, but he's got a very good sense for the net. He's not pretty. He gets there ugly.''
The Bruins, bigger and faster and with more net drive, thoroughly outplayed the Devils en route to a 4-3 win. Peter Cehlarik opened the scoring in the first with a power-play goal, and Anton Blidh and Jake DeBrusk connected in the second to build a 3-1 lead, the Bruins with a beefy 28-14 shot lead through 40 minutes. Josh Atkinson popped in a goal for a 4-2 lead for the Bruins with 7:45 remaining in regulation.
The Bruins are back here Monday night to finish tournament play against Buffalo.
Between the pipes
Zane McIntyre got the call in the Boston net, setting up 6-foot-6-inch Czech Dan Vladar to make Monday night's start against the Sabres.
McIntyre played the full 60:00 in the net and stopped 22 of 25 shots, including two big saves with 2:25 left and with 5.2 seconds to go, and then a block on a tipped shot at the buzzer.
McIntyre, the 24-year-old former North Dakota standout, spent last season with AHL Providence and likely will return there for another season of tuning.
"Yeah, we'll see how it plays out with Malcolm [Subban] and Anton Khudobin,'' said Providence coach Kevin Dean, the bench boss here for the tournament.
Subban and Khudobin are the two likeliest candidates to work behind Tuukka Rask in Boston. "I hate to pencil a guy in before camp even starts, but Zane's going to get a good look in Providence, and then either Malcolm or whoever.''
Arnesson out again
Hard-luck defenseman Linus Arnesson, hindered by shoulder injuries the past two seasons, officially became the season's first reported injury at 9:30 a.m. when a Bruins media release noted he would not participate in the tourney due to an unspecified upper-body injury.
"It doesn't look terrible, but we'll see,'' Dean added after the morning workout at Harborcenter. "There's a good chance by the end of camp he'll be able to get on the ice again.
Arnesson, who will turn 22 on Wednesday, played only parts of the last two seasons (total 59 games) because of his injury. His inability to get a look off the hop could help the odds of other young blue liners, including the likes of Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, and Rob O'Gara.
Devils thump Sabres
The Devils opened up round-robin play Saturday with a 6-3 smackdown of the Sabres after entering the third period with a 2-1 deficit.
Nicholas Baptiste, 21, connected for all three Buffalo goals. A righthanded center, Baptiste was the 69th pick in the 2013 draft and spent all last season at AHL Rochester (62 games, 13-15—28).
Facing off vs. an old friend
Former Bruin forward Tom Fitzgerald is now the Devils assistant general manager. The ever-energetic Fitzgerald, 48, noted here Sunday morning that Bobby Orr's arrival in Boston 50 years ago this past weekend ultimately was the reason he took up hockey as a kid growing up in Billerica.
"Everybody was playing. Rinks were going up, kids were playing street hockey, all because of Bobby,'' recalled Fitzgerald, whose two sons, Ryan and Casey, will suit up again for the BC Eagles in 2016-17. "And Yaz, too. We were all out in the backyard, standing at the plate with the same batting stance as Carl Yastrzemski.''
Ryan Fitzgerald had an opportunity to turn pro with the Bruins in the offseason but opted to return to BC for his senior year and one more season playing alongside Casey, who was chosen in the June draft, No. 86 overall, by the Sabres.
Boston's scratches for the series opener included forwards Drake Rymsha and Simon Stransky, and defenseman Bailey Webster . With Arnesson sidelined, Rymsha filled in on the blue line during the morning workout. All those scratched in Game 1 are expected to play in Monday night's wrap. "That's the plan,'' said Dean, though he noted that a minor injury or conditioning concern could keep someone out of the finale . . . The Bruins went without a captain Sunday, Dean instead opting for three alternate captains: Blidh, Carlo, and Colby Cave . . . Varsity coach Claude Julien made the 100-mile drive down from Toronto to watch the frosh. Julien is an assistant coach with Team Canada in the ongoing World Cup of Hockey, and won't clock in on his Boston job until it's over over there . . . With 7:45 to go in the third, Bruins center A.J. White (formerly of UMass-Lowell) dropped Mike McLeod with a leg check in the neutral zone. New Jersey's Steve Santini (from Boston College) responded by jumping White for a brief tussle. Things you can't do in Hockey East . . . Boston's full training camp, minus those participating in the World Cup, will open up Thursday at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. The first on-ice varsity sessions will be Friday.