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Coming into the season, the Boston Bruins appeared to meet all the qualifications of a team whose window to win a Stanley Cup was closed.

The B’s looked as if they would be heavily reliant on stars who were either in the latter years of their prime or past it; they’d made questionable trades of young stars and had a goalie coming off back-to-back mediocre seasons.

Instead, Boston is not only competitive, but they’re also making a case as the NHL’s second-most-dangerous team behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boston ranks No. 3 in team Corsi for percentage, second in even-strength goals for percentage, ninth in power play percentage and eighth on the penalty kill.

Simply put: The Bruins’ Stanley Cup window is wide-open.

Elite players are still elite

Years down the road, we might find that age curves shifted in the 2010s. With an emphasis on health, fewer fights and head hits as well as more work being done to study factors like dehydration and workload, it’s possible that hockey players’ primes will last into their 30s instead of ending in the late 20s, as current age curve models suggest.

The Bruins could be evidence of this effect. Forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, ages 32 and 29, respectively, are having among their best seasons in 2017-18.

With a hat trick on Thursday night, Bergeron has 19 goals and 19 assists in 39 games. His 57.9 percent Corsi for percentage ranks third in the NHL among forwards, with only Chicago’s Brandon Saad and Columbus’ Artemi Panarin ahead of him. When Bergeron has been on the ice this season, the B’s have taken 161 more shots than their opponents and outscored them 30-9.

Bergeron’s longtime linemate Marchand is leading the team with 46 points, placing him just inside the top 20 in the league despite missing a handful of games. He ranks fifth in even-strength scoring rate, with 3.39 points per 60 minutes.

These numbers are all on par or better than when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2010-11. Bergeron produced 57 points in 2010-11 with a 54.2 Corsi for percentage, while Marchand had 41 points in 77 games.

Zdeno Chara, who will turn 41 in March, is still playing more than 23 minutes per game, down about just two minutes from 2010-11. And while his shot differential numbers have slipped from seasons past, the 6-foot-9 blueliner still isn’t letting anyone get in front of the net. With Chara on the ice, the Bruins have produced 158 high-danger chances to their opponents’ 129, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Veteran stars David Backes (33) and David Krejci (31) have missed time this season, but when in the lineup they are each making significant contributions. The former Blues captain has 18 points in 27 games and wins 52.9 percent of his faceoffs, while Krejci has 23 points in 26 games.

The combination of all of Boston’s veterans clicking at once has helped push the Bruins to an 8-0-2 record in their past 10 games and moved them into the top five in even-strength goals for and fewest goals allowed.

The youth movement

Bergeron, Marchand, Chara, Backes and Krejci aren’t driving the Bruins’ success alone. For a team that has rarely drafted early in the first round during the past decade, Boston has a remarkable number of key players under the age of 23 playing key roles. In fact, of the Bruins’ top six scorers, four are 23 and under.

That group starts with David Pastrnak, 21-year-old right winger flanking Bergeron and Marchand on Boston’s deadly top line. Last season, the Czech forward broke out to the tune of 70 points in 75 games. He’s been even better this season, with 41 points in 44 games.

The Bruins selected Pastrnak with the 25th overall pick in the 2014 draft. The knock on him was size and strength, but his high-end skill allowed an instant jump from playing in Sweden. Of all the players drafted in 2014, only Leon Draisaitl has more points than Pastrnak.

Another first-rounder Jake DeBrusk, 21, has made an immediate impact in his rookie campaign, scoring 20 even-strength points in 40 games while largely playing alongside Krejci.

The pleasant surprise of the group is Danton Heinen, a fourth-round pick in 2014 who scored more than a point per game at the University of Denver and had a solid 2016-17 in the minors. He’s made the jump smoothly, adding 19 even-strength points in 40 games, playing the majority of his minutes with Riley Nash and Backes.

The biggest difference-maker in the bunch is 20-year-old rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy. He joined the Bruins in the postseason last spring and immediately took on a top-four role. He’s built on that experience this season, averaging 22:47 per game in ice time. The former Boston University blueliner has 24 points, 15 of which have come in even-strength assists. McAvoy has become a consistent puck-moving partner for Chara.

Boston’s collection of under-23s isn’t just bringing them value in the form of impressive production; those players are also allowing the B’s to survive huge veteran contracts.

Take the Chicago Blackhawks for example. With mega deals handed out to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Chicago struggles to find cheap depth that will support its stars. For the Bruins, the total cap hit of DeBrusk, Heinen and McAvoy is just $2.65 million. Boston saved in per-season spending by doing a six-year deal with Pastrnak, whose cap hit is a reasonable $6.66 million.

The youngsters also give the Bruins the type of depth required to go deep in the postseason. Even if players like DeBrusk, Heinen and McAvoy are inexperienced, Boston has them playing alongside veterans who have made deep postseason runs.

The goalie

No matter how deep we dig into the numbers or what technology arises, we might never fully understand a team’s impact on goalie performance. But in Boston’s case, it’s pretty easy to draw a connection between a stronger, deeper team and a better defense corps this season helping out Tuukka Rask.

At his absolute peak, Rask’s even-strength save percentage was an otherworldly .943. That mark slipped for three straight seasons, all the way down to .919 in 2016-17. Normally a goalie’s even-strength numbers are more predictable from season to season than his overall save percentage, so a three-season slide would be cause for concern. But he’s rebounded to a .928 save percentage in 2017-18, which may have something to do with the Bruins allowing the fewest high-danger chances in the NHL, per Natural Stat Trick.

Debates will rage for eternity as to whether teams should pay big money for top-notch goalies, but one thing is clear: Good goaltending is a requirement to win the Stanley Cup. Rask has been excellent in his postseason career, posting a .928 save percentage and giving the B’s quality starts in 62.3 percent of his starts.

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The Boston Bruins and the Boston Bruins Foundation announced today, January 11, the first annual Patrice Bergeron & 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Pucks and Paddles, which will be held at Royale Boston (279 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116) on Thursday, February 15 from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The tournament will feature players from the active Boston Bruins roster, on-air personalities from 98.5 The Sports Hub, and patients from Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

The event will feature a single elimination tournament featuring Bruins players, on air talent and the winning bidders. The rounds will advance to a championship game featuring the final two teams, with a winning tandem being crowned the Patrice Bergeron & 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Pucks and Paddles champions. In addition, the four best Bruins ping pong players will participate in a separate informal singles competition to demonstrate their talents to the crowd. All attendees upon arrival will have the opportunity to purchase an entry into a raffle to participate in additional ping pong games against select players.

Fans have the opportunity to bid on the opportunity to play doubles ping pong with the celebrity of their choice. Fans can place their bids by visiting

Fans can purchase tickets for both the VIP and General Admission sessions by visiting

VIP attendees will enjoy a pre-event meet & greet with members of the team. When purchasing VIP tickets, guests will either choose to be a part of the Gold VIP session featuring Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Torey Krug and David Krejci or the Black VIP session featuring Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Backes, and David Pastrnak .

Tickets will be available to the general public on January 11. Prices are as follows:

VIP: $200 – includes admission to autograph session

GA: $50 – entrance into the event (no player access)

Bruins season ticket holders will have exclusive early access to purchase tickets on January 10 and be able to purchase tickets at a discounted rate:

VIP: $175 – includes admission to autograph session

GA: $40 – entrance into the event

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When the Bruins and Islanders hit the ice tonight, it will be a matchup of two of the most effective lines in the NHL. The B’s trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has made a habit of shutting down the opposition’s top line.

The Isles boast one of the most dynamic first lines in all of hockey. The grouping of Josh Bailey (12-38=50), John Tavares (21-28=49) and Anders Lee (24-15-39) are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s line of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov for the lead league in combined points with 138. Bailey and Tavares rank 2nd and T-3rd in the league in points, respectively, and Bailey also leads the league in assists.

When Bergeron and Co. took on the high-flying Tampa Bay first line earlier this season, they submitted a stifling performance. They possessed the puck to such an extent that Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper elected to split up Stamkos and Kucherov in order to get one of them away from the Bergeron line.

“Bergy has been doing it for 10 years,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s just a matter of being on the right side of puck battles and not allowing odd man rushes. Taking away time and space through the neutral zone so they don’t get clean entries with a lot of options.”

When the Bruins knocked off the Islanders at TD Garden on December 9, the Isles first line accounted for the lone goal late in the third. Lee finished a scramble in front with Josh Bailey recording an assist. Tonight, the focus for Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak will again be on out-possessing their opposition.

“Against those lines if you have the puck a lot, they are forced to defend,” said Cassidy. “They are forced to check. That takes a lot of energy, so that’s one of the biggest deterrents of keeping a good offensive line off the board.

“Hold onto the puck. Be a good puck possession team. It starts with faceoffs. We’ve been pretty good on that.”

Pastrnak noted his lines goal will be to continue and play their style.

“We try to play our game as a line,” said Pastrnak. “Try to bring the game to them. Try to spend as much time in the offensive zone. Obviously we usually play against offensive lines so… try to bring it to them and give them a tough night.”

Pasta Pressing

In his fourth season, Pastrnak is leading the Bruins in points (34), assists (19) and is tied with Marchand for the team-lead in goals (15). However, the 6-foot winger has been unable to capitalize recently, going scoreless in his previous nine contests.

Cassidy believes Pastrnak may need to simplify his game to get back on track.

“Sometimes simpler is better when you’re in a slump,” said Cassidy. “Getting around the front of the net, getting some second chances. Those type of goals usually get you going. We’ll see what happens from there.”

Despite the the goal-scoring draught for Pastrnak, the Bruins recent surge has alleviated much of the concern.

“Right now I haven’t taken notice of it much because the team is going well and we are getting secondary scoring…” said Cassidy. “I don’t believe it’s going to be prolonged to be honest with you. He’ll get his looks and score. He’s just too good a player.”

Pastrnak noted that the team’s good play is more important than his individual production.

“We’re playing good. It’s all that matters,” said Pastrnak. “All the lines are playing really good hockey, and that’s what we are about.”

Opposing Views

Tonight’s game marks the second of three meetings between the B’s and the Islanders. The Bruins claimed the first matchup, with Jake DeBrusk notching a highlight-reel game winning goal in the third period.

The Islander’s have gone 4-6 in 10 games since their defeat to the Bruins, including losses in their past two contests. They fell to the Winnipeg Jets 4-2, and then dropped their most recent game on December 31 versus the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 6-1.

In addition to their high-powered first line, the Islanders are fueled by rookie Mathew Barzal. Barzal is second among all first year players with 36 points, and leads all rookies with 23 assists. The Islanders’ 136 goals for rank 2nd in the league behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We know they’ve got some firepower up front, some skill and some speed,” said Bruins forward Sean Kuraly. “Especially up the middle. We are trying to get the puck behind their D and stick to our systems.”

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If the Bruins want inspiration for a potential Stanley Cup run, they need look no further than the Nashville Predators last season.

Look, it’s not a perfect comparison. The Predators had a better blue line. They have a better coach. But both teams are regular-season possession monsters. Both teams are powered by a dominant top line that can flat-out take over games — Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have combined for seven goals at 5-on-5 and having given up one. Which is pretty good.

Both teams have a supporting cast at forward that’s a combination of veterans and dynamic younger players. For the Bruins, that means guys like center David Krejci playing with guys like Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk.

But what the Predators had last season that the Bruins aren’t sure they’ll have: a veteran goalie who finds another level early in the playoffs and wins rounds for his team. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne went from a .918 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against in the regular season to a .930 and a 1.96 in the postseason. He started the playoffs with back-to-back shutouts. He won seven of first eight postseason starts.

Tuukka Rask has a .913 save percentage and a 2.44 goals-against average this season. His career playoff numbers have been quite good: .928 and a 2.12, respectively. But for the Bruins to make a serious run at the Cup, he needs to dominate the early rounds and give his team some solid defensive footing on which to climb through the conference. Especially when it appears they could open the playoffs against Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Emily Kaplan: If the Bruins play like they did in a 7-2 throttling of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, no doubt about it. Pencil these guys into the Eastern Conference finals right now. But that’s just one game of evidence, of course. Let’s look at a larger sample size.

First, the positives: Charlie McAvoy is a revelation. The 19-year-old defenseman is every bit as good as advertised, handling hefty minutes (23-plus a game) against tough assignments, producing offensively (18 points in 31 games) and showing some grit, too. (I’m not just talking about his fight on Monday.) The Bruins also have what could be the league’s best line outside of Vladislav Namestnikov-Nikita Kucherov-Steven Stamkos. Yes, Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak — the Bruins’ top three point-scorers — are that dominant.

The problem here is depth. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy still doesn’t know who to play with David Krejci, and that’s an issue. The young kids (Bjork and DeBrusk) are working through rookie growing pains. And the least-fun topic to bring up in Boston: Rask may have lost a step. Hey, that can all be solved if the veteran goalie only faces 18 shots a night while his team fires off 45 … like it did against Columbus.

I think the most emblematic game for this team was its performance last Saturday against the Rangers. The Bruins fell two goals behind, and then looked damn impressive storming back against a locked-in Henrik Lundqvist to tie and earn a point. Ultimately, a mental lapse — a bad line change that yielded too many men in overtime — did the Bruins in. This is a team that has stumbled early and has enough talent to scare some teams down the stretch, but there are too many holes in the Bruins’ lineup for them to finish off teams come playoff time.

Chris Peters: I don’t think they have enough to make a Cup run, especially with the competition being what it is in the East right now. If the Bruins can get past the Lightning in the Atlantic portion of the playoffs — a huge if — they would still have to overtake any one of the teams from the loaded Metropolitan to reach the Cup Final. As Emily notes, depth is an issue — and it’s unlikely Boston can keep pace with the scoring attacks it would have to go head-to-head with, even if it did just drop seven on the Blue Jackets. The Bruins are looking more and more comfortable as a playoff team, but it’s harder to see them taking that leap to Cup contender.

The 2017-18 season, however, is a key building-block year as the Bruins look to recover from some of the salary-cap issues left by former GM Peter Chiarelli. This season appears to be a significant step forward for a number of reasons. McAvoy looking like the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara as the team’s No. 1 defenseman is a huge development, but the Bruins are going to need a lot more than one player to fill the roles previously held by veterans. A lot of young players are getting significant reps with the big club. It’s an important development season for those players, as Boston keeps building a secondary core of young players to support the existing veterans — like Chara, Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci and Rask — who have meant so much to the organization.

Pastrnak is still only 21, which makes him the centerpiece of the young core. McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are in there, too. Meanwhile, Danton Heinen has sneaked up to third in points per game among rookies, trailing only Brock Boeser and Mathew Barzal, at 0.78. DeBrusk had the best night of his young career against Columbus and now has 17 points in 27 games. Boston has used 10 players aged 24 or younger this season and has a decently-stocked prospect pipeline, with some more talent to follow.

There may be a little more uncertainty in the coming years as some of the other veterans move on or decline, but the Bruins can start feeling pretty good about their future. To be playing as well as they have been this season is simply an added bonus.

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For the first 59 minutes of the game, it seemed the Bruins had finally put together a complete road victory against a formidable opponent. Leading 2-1 thanks to tallies by familiar goal-scorers Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, the Bruins looked to close out the game and earn a much-needed two points. But with the goalie pulled in the final 60 seconds of regulation, James Van Riemsdyk and the Toronto Maple Leafs snatched a point from their Atlantic Division rivals, and Patrick Marleau added the finishing blow a minute into three-on-three overtime – leaving Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and the rest of the B’s scratching their heads as to how they let one get away in a 3-2 overtime setback at Air Canada Centre.

“With a minute left, it’s one of those where you kind of let it slip by,” lamented Bergeron. “It’s tough, we have to learn from that… We have to take the good out of it but also realize we have to close games like that.”

“We played good, but a few mistakes just cost us the game,” added Marchand, who played 23 minutes in his first game back from an upper-body injury. “You can’t be giving away points like this.”

After a scoreless back-and-forth affair through the first half of the game, Bergeron opened the scoring 15 minutes into the second period with a one-time snipe from Marchand that beat Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, who was frozen in his crease. It was a familiar connection for No. 63 and No. 37, who looked as comfortable as ever playing together in all situations of the game – as each racked up more than 22 minutes of ice time. But after Riley Nash was called for a slashing penalty in the final minute of the period, the Leafs capitalized on the man advantage, as Van Riemsdyk banged home a rebound from Morgan Reilly’s point shot to tie the game at one goal apiece.

Pastrnak put the Bruins ahead once again 14 minutes into the third period, as the team’s third power play of the game was about to expire. Torey Krug sent the puck in behind the Leafs defense, where Anders Bjork retrieved it and centered it to the front of the net, where Jordan Szwarz had two point-blank whacks at it, only to be denied by Andersen both times. But the second rebound came right out to Pastrnak, who finished it off and threw both hands in the air in celebration.

But the good feelings were short-lived for the Black & Gold. The desperate Leafs pulled Andersen and put six skaters on the attack in the final couple minutes, hemming the Bruins in their own zone. After a few failed clearing attempts, Mitch Marner’s pass found the stick of Van Riemsdyk, who was camped out alone in front of Khudobin and easily deflected it past the B’s netminder to tie the game.

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The Bruins were searching at the end of the first period. Down by two goals, Boston was just trying to get to intermission and regroup.

But the final shift of the opening frame seemed like it would never end. Columbus was bullying the Bruins as the Blue Jackets landed five heavy hits in the last 30 seconds of the period. Boston finally escaped, having put just four shots on goal, and retreated to the dressing room where head coach Bruce Cassidy delivered a stern message to his club: their start was unacceptable.

“We deserved it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Sometimes you need that ugly truth, I guess. Every second of the first period we didn’t like. We didn’t compete, we didn’t play well.”

Knowing that the team needed a spark, Zdeno Chara wasted little time showing Cassidy – and his teammates – that the message was received. The captain dropped the gloves with Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson just 40 seconds into the middle period and set the tone for the remainder of the night.

Boston went on to allow another goal midway through the second and fell into a three-goal hole, but the momentum had clearly shifted. The Bruins erased the deficit and were able to grab a point in what eventually turned into a 4-3 shootout loss – courtesy of Oliver Bjorkstrom’s winner in the third round – on Monday night at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s a huge boost,” Torey Krug said of Chara’s scrap. “He’s a guy that plays a lot of minutes for us and has a lot of other things to worry about than dropping the gloves…he stepped up and he did just that. Guys started playing. I know they got one…but I think our guys responded regardless.”

The Bruins were pleased with their ability to overcome the deficit and steal away a point, but felt two points was easily within their grasp had they come out with a better start.

“You just can’t have those starts,” said Cassidy. “We need better. We put ourselves in a bad spot and we fought our way out of it, so that’s the positive. I don’t like to see us start like that. I take a lot of pride in being ready to go and I thought we weren’t as a group.

“But we corrected it, gave ourselves a chance to get two points, just didn’t work out in the shootout.”

Boston began to chip away at the 3-0 hole when Patrice Bergeron delivered with a power-play tally late in the second. After drilling the post with a slapper, Torey Krug collected the rebound and found David Pastrnak behind the net. Pastrnak (three assists) sent it to Danton Heinen, who delivered a feed to Bergeron at the top of the right circle. Bergeron finished it off by slamming a one-timer by Sergei Bobrovsky with 4:23 remaining in the period to cut the deficit to 3-1.

The Bruins got within a goal at the 10:26 marker of the third on Torey Krug’s second goal of the season. Kevan Miller trickled down into the corner and zipped a pass through the slot to Krug, who was charging to the post. Krug then ripped one by the glove of Bobrovsky to make it 3-2.

Boston tied the game just 1:21 later with its second power-play marker of the night. Krug collected the puck behind the Bruins net and dropped the puck off to Pastrnak, who soared through the neutral zone and left a pass for Bergeron just inside the Columbus blue line.

Bergeron found a wide-open Marchand in the slot, where the winger fired a wrister glove-side for his 200th career goal. It was a strong display of puck movement from the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak trio, which had been reunited earlier in the night.

“We know how to play with each other, we have chemistry, it’s always been there,” said Bergeron. “Right away, I could see it was still there form the first shift on. We created some good things on the power play, too, and carried that over to 5-on-5 play.

“I go back to what we didn’t do in the first, same thing for our line. We competed harder and got pucks back and good things happen when you do that.”

The Bruins, however, did not have much luck in the shootout. Kenny Agostino and Marchand were blanked in the first two rounds, but goals from Artemi Panarin and Bjorkstrand secured the victory for Columbus.

“We have a lot of character in our dressing room, so you realize that it wasn’t the way we want to play and you get [angry] at yourself and start playing better,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 29 saves. “We found a way to battle back and get a point. It’s a big point.”

Miller Steps Up

The Bruins also received quite the boost from Miller late in the third period. Following a heavy hit on Krug by Bjorkstrand in the corner, Miller took exception and dropped the gloves with just over five minutes to go in regulation.

Bjorkstrand was handed a five-minute major for boarding, while Miller received a two-minute instigator, a five-minute major for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct, and a game misconduct. But Miller’s teammates were hardly disappointed.

“We need that, we need to show that we’re a team, that we’re a family in here,” said Marchand. “That carries onto the ice. Guys did a great job of standing up for each other.”

“It’s part of Kevan Miller what he does,” added Cassidy. “He’s got to stick up for his teammates. It’s difficult to get upset with him even though we could have been on a five-minute power play. Over the course of the season, that’s what brings teams together.”

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Injuries are a part of hockey and every team must battle through them at some point during the season, but all injuries are not the same. Losing some players carries much more weight than others.

During the first few games of the regular season, we are seeing the impact of injuries to indispensible players such as Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis, Boston center Patrice Bergeron and Minnesota winger Zach Parise.w

What makes a player indispensable? When players like Ellis, Bergeron and Parise are lost, their teams take a hit at both ends of the ice and the results show up on the shot counter and scoreboard. The other aspect is team construction. Superstars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would be tough to lose, but their teams are good enough they could survive a stretch without them. The indispensables come from teams that aren’t exactly stacked top to bottom, or have already had injury troubles — or both.

So who are the most indispensable players in the NHL? Here are 10 forwards and five defensemen whose team would be in trouble without them:

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Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will miss his second straight game Monday against the Colorado Avalanche because of a lower-body injury.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Bergeron is “just not ready” to play after the veteran center returned to practice Sunday morning.

Cassidy said Bergeron will travel with the Bruins on their upcoming three-game West Coast trip but that he remains day-to-day. Bergeron, 32, had 21 goals and 32 assists last season.

Cassidy also announced that defenseman Torey Krug would make his season debut Monday after missing Thursday’s opener with a jaw injury.

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BOSTON — Athletes from five Boston-area professional sports teams are launching a new campaign to fight racism and discrimination.

The Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Revolution are joining the Take the Lead project that was unveiled Thursday at Fenway Park.

It includes a public service announcement featuring a montage of athletes telling fans to “stand for our teams, but don’t stand for racism.”

They say that “if you hear something wrong, offensive or hateful, speak up, say something.”

Among those in the video are the Patriots’ Devin McCourty, the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia and the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron. It will be shown at Boston-area sports events.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy previously said the effort was sparked by two racist incidents at Fenway Park in May. In one, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was the subject of taunts; also, a man received a lifetime ban from Fenway Park for using a racist slur in describing the performance of the national anthem to another fan.

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BOSTON – Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have long been established as one of the National Hockey League’s most dependable and productive duos.

And thus they provide the perfect example for any young player attempting to break into the league. That was apparent on Friday when coach Bruce Cassidy propped 21-year-old winger Anders Bjork on Boston’s top line for the first day of on-ice training camp sessions at Warrior Ice Arena.

“He’s got a history of scoring at the collegiate level. He’s got pace to his game. Those are two things right off the bat,” Cassidy said of why Bjork was a fit in that position. “Getting to know him as a person, I think he’s receptive to those types of players and we’re hoping he can keep his identity as a player that he’s developed so far in his young career and do the things he needs to do to be successful, but also work with those guys and respect what they’re trying to do.”

Bjork, who signed with the Bruins in May after a stellar junior campaign at Notre Dame, is among a large crop of young players competing for spots up front this camp. And gaining experience alongside the likes of Bergeron and Marchand will no doubt help his cause.

“It’s really cool to practice with those players. I learned a lot,” said the 21-year-old, who was drafted in the fifth round in 2014. “It’s crazy to think about the people you’re skating next to. You sort of have to not think about them and just focus on playing your game and doing the best you can and doing the little things right. I just tried to not overthink it out there.”

The trio’s time together on Friday was brief, as most of the work was done in pairs, but the limited exposure to two of the game’s best still provided plenty of valuable material.

“You saw out there today how Bergeron and Marchand, every little puck battle they’re competing 100 percent,” said Bjork. “Doing all the little things right really adds up. Trying to copy that and do that myself.

“They talk a lot on the ice and tell me where they want me and little things like that, which is really helpful. They’ve done it before and they made practice today very easy.”

Marchand, who said he’s been impressed by Bjork’s skill and skating ability, felt it was important to make the youngster feel comfortable during his first professional training camp session.

“For me, when I came in, I was always worried about making the other guys happy and giving them the puck and almost giving them a little too much respect. It can take away from your game a little bit,” said Marchand. “I think the biggest thing is you just have to go through and play and be comfortable to talk to guys.

“It becomes on us on as well, we really have to try to make them comfortable and do as much as we can. He seems like a really levelheaded kid and a really nice kid. We’ll work hard and we’ll work together and talk and hopefully we connect.”

Cassidy said after the session that David Pastrnak, who was set to fly in from the Czech Republic on Friday night after signing a new six-year contract on Thursday, should arrive at camp on Saturday.

“[He] should be available [Saturday] in some way, shape or form if everything is on time,” said Cassidy.

One player, in particular, looking forward to Pastrnak’s return is David Krejci. Cassidy said during Thursday’s opening press conference that his preference is for the two Czech Republic natives to play together this season, as they did for a large chunk of the second half last year.

“We just kind of feed off each other,” said Krejci, who had prospects Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen flanking him on Friday. “We think the game alike and we can kind of read off each other, sometimes even blind passes we know where each other goes.”

Until Pastrnak gets settled in, Krejci is eager to find a comfort level with DeBrusk and Heinen, even if there is no guarantee either of them starts the season on his line.

“I like what I see and what I hear from other people,” Krejci said of DeBrusk. “Hopefully we can talk more over the next couple days and when the first preseason game comes, hopefully we will be on the same page and build some chemistry and go from there.”

Marchy’s Midseason Form

Marchand rarely disappoints when speaking with the media and Friday was no exception. When asked for his reaction to Pastrnak’s new contract, the winger started off with a bit of sarcasm.

“Oh, that got done?” Marchand said with a smile.

But Marchand turned serious as he continued – at least for a few seconds.

“It will be great to have Pasta back. He’s awesome to have around the room, he’s always having a good time and joking around and obviously a phenomenal player on the ice. It’s great to have that taken care of and we’re all excited to have him back,” Marchand said before providing some more comic relief when referring to Pastrnak and longtime linemate Patrice Bergeron.

“Two rich linemates,” said Marchand. “I don’t have to pay for anything.”

Marchand was then queried on having to compete against Boston’s other sports teams, which include the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the first-place Red Sox, and a Celtics team coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“We won not too long ago, too,” said Marchand. “Obviously you want to win every year, but that’s not the case. If we had Tom Brady on our team we’d be great. We obviously want to get back there and take the steps forward that we need to. I think we’re all excited about where we’re gonna be this year and I think we can do some damage.”

One reporter then suggested that the Bruins had their own version of Brady in Bergeron.

“He’s gonna be a Hall of Fame and a legend,” Marchand said, “But Bergy’s way better looking.”