Last season ended abruptly for the Bruins when they lost, 4-1, at home to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 12, a warm Wednesday night. The Bruins returned to TD Garden 103 days later, this time making their preseason home debut with a 4-3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night.
The Bruins, 2-1-1 in the preseason, snapped a three-game home losing streak – their only Garden victory in the Cup Final was in Game 1 May 27. But the concern now is preparing for the regular season, which starts at Dallas Oct. 3.
The Bruins planned to audition Brett Ritchie on a line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. But Krejci (lower-body injury) lasted only two shifts and his status has not been determined for Wednesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
“I don’t think he’s serious,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Took a hit early on and tried to keep playing. He just felt it was better not to push through. We’ll know more tomorrow but I don’t think it was serious.”
Ritchie, though, ended up getting plenty of playing time, with Trent Frederic replacing Krejci at center.
“To me he’s as advertised, big man that will play down below the circles with the puck,” Cassidy said of Ritchie. “He’s not trying to make something happen that isn’t there. The puck hasn’t found him a lot, unfortunately. When you play with [Krejci] it tends to, so it would’ve been interesting to see how that played out with him and Jake. But didn’t happen as much. He’s been a good, steady player for us, physical on the forecheck a couple times. Those things are what he brings.”
The game did provide a stage for Charlie Coyle to center the Bruins’ first line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. And the combination proved to be effective, as Marchand scored off a Pastrnak feed for a 2-1 lead at 1:03 of the second period.
“Those guys know each other and you can see it more when you’re playing with them,” Coyle said. “And you saw the goal they had. It’s almost like you try not to interfere with it. Just play your game and see how you feed off of them, they feed off of you. Nice to play with the caliber of players like that.”
Cassidy has said he hoped to keep Coyle as the team’s third-line center.
“I’m sure whatever happens, injuries, there’s always stuff that happens and guys usually are moved up and down the lineup,” Coyle said. “I’ll be ready for anything, if that’s the case. That’s why it’s good to play with different guys in camp and you gain a little chemistry with guys.”
TD Garden also has been revamped since Game 7.
“It wasn’t the locker room I remember from last year,” Coyle said. “Things look a little different from ice level but it looks good. But it was nice to be back here and playing another game in this building.”
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Goaltender Tuukka Rask made his preseason debut, making 17 saves over two periods before being relieved by Dan Vladar. Rask also will play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Jaroslav Halak is set for Wednesday’s game against the Devils, and as backup Saturday. “[Rask] just thought after two periods he got his work in and felt that was enough for tonight,” Cassidy said.
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Jakub Lauko opened the scoring with an impressive backhander from the left circle after slicing past the Flyers’ Justin Braun at the blue line at 9:32 of the opening period. “That’s what he does, when he’s on his game he’s moving his feet, he’s chipping and chasing,” Cassidy said. “He’s a tough guy to stop, he’s got a nice shot, he can make some plays. He’s still learning the ropes away from the puck, breakout situations, defensive zone situations. That’s perfectly normal at 19. It’s nice to have a guy like that. I don’t know where he’s going to end up right now, to be honest, where he’ll play exactly this year. But he’s certainly done a nice job for us.”
Travis Konecny equalized at 12:44. The Flyers’ Carsen Twarynski flipped a shot past a sprawling Vladar at 4:42, and Connor Bunnaman scored a power-play goal with a centering pass off Frederic’s stick for a 3-2 lead at 6:46 of the final period. Chris Wagner finished Sean Kuraly’s center pass for a 3-3 tie at 18:14. DeBrusk then scored at 2:35 of overtime.
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Patrice Bergeron (groin) probably will make his debut on Saturday. Bergeron centered a line with Par Lindholm and Peter Cehlarik in practice at Warrior Ice Arena Monday morning.