Peter Mueller’s personal checklist from his first exhibition game with the Bruins — a 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus Monday — didn’t focus on the scoresheet.
“I thought I held my own for a first game,’’ said the veteran right winger, the only Bruin in training camp as a tryout invitee. “I was making good plays, finding the open man, protecting the puck.’’
But to catch eyes here, and earn himself a contract (even if only with AHL Providence), Mueller will need to produce points. The club’s foremost need is defense, but management is also concerned about putting pucks in the net — a Mueller specialty for stretches in his previous NHL stops with Phoenix, Colorado, and Florida.
After three years in Europe, where he needed to prove he was fully recovered from a nasty concussion sustained in his days with the Avalanche, Mueller will need time to readjust to the North American game. European rinks are wider, by 15 feet (100 vs 85), and three years’ worth of playmaking on an oversized sheet can alter a man’s approach.
“The best way for me to describe it,’’ said Mueller, a former first-round draft pick, “is that in Europe you have maybe three or four steps, and over here you have maybe one or two steps. So the mind has to work a lot quicker and your body has to be in sync with your mind.’’
Mueller landed three shots on net and played on both special teams units, including 3:15 on the power play. His best bid came with 6:11 remaining in the first when he landed a long-range slapper that resulted in a fat rebound toward the left wing that Matt Beleskey failed to pot. Mueller was one of four Bruins to finish minus-2 for the night.
Bruins lose again
The slow-to-warm Bruins preseason remained on a very low flame Wednesday night with the Red Wings slapping a 5-1 loss on the Black and Gold at the Garden.
The loss dropped the Bruins to 0-1-1 in the exhibition season. They’ll be in Detroit Friday to face the Red Wings in an encore performance, still in pursuit of their first victory.
The Red Wings potted a pair of quick goals, only 21 seconds apart, to take a 2-0 lead late in the first period.
Shortly after Ryan Spooner got himself pitched into penalty box for a faceoff violation, Kyle Criscuolo tipped the 1-0 lead by Malcolm Subban at 18:47. Not what Spooner was looking for when he said he is looking to get better at the dot this season, cheating if he must. The cheating led to a penalty, and to the 1-0 deficit.
Pain-in-the-neck Steve Ott made it 2-0 at 19:08 when he zipped in front, with only Matt Grzelcyk there to defend, and knocked home a Drew Miller centering pass from behind the net. Beleskey didn’t offer Ott enough resistance, and the Bruins were guilty of putting too many bodies behind the net.
The Winged Wheels popped in another pair in the second to run their lead to 4-0 before the Bruins finally responded with an Austin Czarnik strike at 13:20, assisted by Spooner and Grzelcyk.
Luke Glendenning and Anthony Mantha had the third and fourth goals, respectively.
Subban, getting his first action of the preseason, allowed four goals on 34 shots.
“First time in a long time that I can say I did not feel up to speed,’’ said Subban, his season cut short in February last season when he required surgery for a fractured larynx. “Practice is a lot different from a game. In the first, I felt I was little behind the play and that starts to open up holes — my post coverage and stuff. Other than that, I thought I played pretty well.’’
Dan Vladar took over in the third period and turned back 7 of 8 shots.
Miller scored the final Detroit goal with 9:09 gone in the third.
Close to home
Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who grew up just over the bridge in Charlestown, suited up at the Garden Wednesday night for the first time as a true Black-and-Gold Bostonian, paired with veteran Adam McQuaid.
“A little bit of an added bonus here because I’ve already played on Garden ice a couple of times,’’ said Grzelcyk, the former Boston University standout who was a Beanpot regular on Causeway Street. “But just having that spoked B on your chest is going to be a cool experience.
“I am sure I will still have the jitters and butterflies before the game.’’
McQuaid was his regular partner in drills throughout training camp. The two have often been spotted chatting on the ice, McQuaid imparting his words of wisdom regarding the Bruins’ playing system and on-ice positioning.
“He gives me some little hints, positioning, and how to be open on the breakouts for him,’’ said Grzelcyk, who became the Terriers’ top back-end puck mover over the course of his four years. “I think just building that chemistry is huge and makes you feel even more comfortable going into the game.’’
Downsized at only 5 feet 9 inches and 176 pounds, Grzelyck said he has benefited greatly by the NHL’s trend toward a speed game in recent years, distancing itself from a time when small players need not apply.
“Obviously, if it was 20 years ago or something, I wouldn’t even be here,’’ he said. “You kind of saw that at the World Cup, the way the younger guys played out there. It’s encouraging to see.’’
Tuukka Rask, who returned to town late last week after backstopping Team Finland at the World Cup, had his first day on the ice with his Black-and-Gold brethren Wednesday afternoon.
“Yeah, it was great,’’ said Rask, “I had a four- or five-day break from the ice so it was good to get my legs back under me.
“Once we get all the guys back from the World Cup, it will begin to feel even more real. But for now it’s just great to be back.’’
Rask said he doesn’t have an ideal number of games in mind that he would like to play in the upcoming season. The 29-year-old stopper, about to enter his eighth season, averaged 64 games over the last three.
“It depends what kind of games they are, how tight they are,’’ said Rask, whose play at times looked labored down the stretch last season, “and how much you drain yourself physically and mentally.
“I am sure for a lot of starting goalies it is going to fall between 55 and 75 games. So it’s somewhere there. There is no real number. As long as you are fresh and play good, and feel good, just play as many games as possible, I guess.’’
Rask said he felt good throughout last season and had breaks when he felt he needed them.
“I felt fresh,’’ he said, “and that was the goal. That’s what everybody wants.’’
Asked if he felt he could play 75 games, Rask said, “Sure, why not? As I said before, I am sure there will some bad ones in the mix, but . . . it’s possible. As long as you feel fresh and play good, you’re up for the challenge, obviously.’’
Rask intended to get on the ice for the first time Monday, but his equipment did not arrive in time.
“I have so many bags with me,’’ explained Rask, whose gear had to make it from Toronto. “I ship my gear and there was a bit of a miscue, and it stayed in Toronto for an extra day.’’
Here and there
The Bruins will practice in Brighton again Thursday (sessions at Warrior are open to the public), then play exhibition games Friday night in Detroit and Saturday night in Philadelphia. They’ll dart back to Boston after the Friday game, practice at Warrior in the morning, then fly to Philadelphia early Saturday for the game that night vs. the Flyers . . . Czarnik had the Bruins’ only goal. Coach Joe Sacco praised the young center for his hustle. “Most of us on the staff have the same feeling about him,’’ said Sacco. “He’s played well. He’s on the puck. He’s competitive. We are looking to see who has that competitive fire and who can play at a high level.’’ . . . Colin Miller and Zach Senyshyn each led the Bruins with five shots apiece on goal . . . Spooner’s faceoff violation for a two-minute penalty, which led directly to a Detroit power-play goal, was because he twice was tossed out of the circle before the puck drop. “Not a good night for me on faceoffs,’’ said Spooner, who lost 4 of his 16 drops for a lowly 25 percent rate. Overall, the Red Wings won 36 of 61 drops for a 59 percent win factor . . . Bruins center Noel Acciari left the bench with an injury early in the third period. Sacco acknowledged Acciari was injured, but said he didn’t have any further information . . . Grzelcyk had a busy and fairly solid 19:49 in ice time, including 1:16 on the power play and 1:23 on the PK. He assisted on Czarnik’s goal for his first point in a Boston uniform and landed two shots on net . . . Former Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Islanders.