Rookie defensemen Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara probably played their way into the Bruins starting lineup, but the team won’t have to make a difficult roster decision immediately, as veterans Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid remain sidelined by undisclosed injuries.
Both Miller and McQuaid missed practice Tuesday and were placed on injured reserve. General manager Don Sweeney said McQuaid’s absence is short-term, but Miller “will likely be out for an extended period of time.”
At the least, both defensemen will miss the first three games of the season, which begins Thursday in Columbus.
“You want to be out there working on stuff,’’ said McQuaid. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is.”
Carlo, who has been playing with Zdeno Chara, and O’Gara, who has been paired with Torey Krug, get a chance to step in.
“Obviously with the way O’Gara and Carlo played in the preseason and the way they’ve shown they can play and start the season, and with the injuries we have, it’s a little bit of luxury we weren’t expecting,’’ said Bruins president Cam Neely.
“I truly feel like we’ve got some good young players that are knocking on the door, or a couple of years away. And I think they’re going to make an impact on this club while our core is still in a position to play at the level they’re currently playing at.’’
“I feel like I’m ready for whatever’s thrown at me,’’ said Carlo.
Another rookie who was playing himself into a starting role, forward Austin Czarnik, is out with a concussion suffered on a hit Saturday night. Czarnik, who is following concussion protocol, is listed as an IR non-roster player until he is medically cleared to play.
Czarnik’s absence from line rushes left Riley Nash centering Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey on the third line. Other line combinations were: Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-David Pastrnak; David Krejci-Ryan Spooner-David Backes; and Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari-Danton Heinen.
As the coaching staff did some final sifting of players, management and ownership took time to lay out their expectations.
For owner Jeremy Jacobs, the expectations are pretty simple: It’s about the playoffs.
“I share the expectations of everybody here that we’ll be in the playoffs and I expect them to get deep in the playoffs,’’ said Jacobs, whose team has missed the postseason for two consecutive years.
“It’s a very good mix of young and experienced players, so I’m looking forward to a good playoff season.’’
Jacobs said the mandate to make the playoffs — and to make some noise there — is there every day.
“Our expectations are high,’’ he said.
Sweeney has some simple expectations, too. But it’s too soon for him to skip ahead to the playoffs.
“It’s all about the wins,’’ Sweeney said. “That’s the bottom line in this business.’’
The emergence of the younger players is gratifying to Jacobs.
“What you’re seeing in these players, we didn’t give up early,’’ said Jacobs. “We didn’t trade out these guys, we stayed with them.’’
Jacobs thought that Saturday’s final exhibition game, a 1-0 victory over the Flyers, showed a team he can be enthusiastic about.
“There’s a lot of youth out there, and I was seriously impressed,’’ he said.
Sweeney said the new players have changed the dynamic, pumping a little energy into the group.
“The core players we have — Patrice and Brad and Tuukka [Rask] and David — they were drafted and developed and they’ve become our core players,’’ he said. “And the expectations are the players we’re trying to integrate now, when they’re ready, will become equally the same.”
As Sweeney noted, the only thing left is performance. That’s under coach Claude Julien’s purview.
“The play of a lot of these guys has really impressed us,’’ Julien said, “but on the other hand, we’ve also as a coaching staff tried to implement things trying to make us better as a team, which will make our defensive game and our defense be more efficient. I think it’s shown so far in these preseason games, the puck is moving a lot better and there’s reasons for that.’’
Keep in touch
Sweeney said the Bruins will stay in touch with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who came to training camp after playing for Team Europe in the World Cup and was released from his professional tryout contract Monday. “Ultimately he made the decision that if he wasn’t going to be in the lineup right away that he would like to explore other options,’’ Sweeney said. “We parted on very, very good terms and actually spoke to his representatives that we’d like to keep tabs on him.” . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs claimed forward Seth Griffith off the waiver wire. Griffith, 23, had one assist in four games with the Bruins last season, and played 57 games (24-53—77) with Providence.