Monthly Archives: September 2017

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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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Did you make it out to a Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour stop?

The Bruins’ crew set out to visit seven cities in all six New England states, making a 748-mile trip from TD Garden to each city, and then to Warrior Ice Arena for the final stop during training camp.

Nearly 14,000 fans were in attendance at the Fan Fest tour stops throughout August and early September in Portland, Maine, Manchester, N.H., Burlington, Vt., Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston.

Players Brandon Carlo, Tim Schaller, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash, and Tommy Cross met with fans at the stops, along with coaches and staff, including President Cam Neely, General Manager Don Sweeney, Assistant General Manager John Ferguson, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, assistant coaches Kevin Dean and Joe Sacco, and Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa.

NESN color commentator Andy Brickley and play-by-play broadcaster Jack Edwards led Q&A sessions at every stop for the fans.

The inaugural Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour was created to provide an opportunity for fans to meet with players, coaches, and management, as well as participate in a variety of activities.

The activities included answering Bruins Trivia to win prizes, visiting a mock Bruins dressing room, experiencing the TD Garden home broadcast booth through NESN’s virtual reality, and much more.

Gifford’s was also in attendance to give away free Power Play Fudge ice cream. During the seven stops, Gifford’s (based out of Maine) served 94 tubs of ice cream, which amounts to 282 gallons.

The tour also gave Vatrano, Schaller, and Acciari the chance to represent the Bruins near their hometowns.

“It’s a dream come true to play in the NHL, but to play for your hometown team, to see kids wearing your jersey, its pretty cool,” said Vatrano, who attended the Springfield, Mass. stop and had plenty of family members in attendance. “Its great to see the support I have here, it’s what I call home and I love it here.”

An important component of the Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour was growing the game.

More than 4,000 kids ages 4-9 were signed up for the Bruins Academy Learn to Play program. At the various stops, the kids were outfitted in brand new CCM hockey gear for a total of $2 million worth of equipment donated.

Through the program and fitting, each kid will receive their “locker room box” of $500 worth of equipment, including an “8-Spoked Bruins Academy Pledge” signed by Sweeney, in addition to four weeks of professional on-ice training at their local rinks this Fall.

View more information on the Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour at

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Ryan Spooner has never been considered the most physical player on the ice. And he probably never will be.

But this preseason, the 25-year-old center is making a concerted effort to be more engaged without the puck. Chicago’s Tanner Kero found that out the hard way during the Bruins’ 4-2 preseason victory over the Blackhawks on Monday night.

Playing with David Pastrnak and Matt Beleskey, Spooner set the tone during the game’s opening minute by dropping Kero with a heavy hit in front of the Bruins bench. The check separated Kero from the puck and jumpstarted Boston’s charge up the ice.

Spooner then drifted toward the middle of the neutral zone where he received a pass from Pastrnak, before floating a backhander to Matt Beleskey. Beleskey then found Pastrnak, who cruised toward the Chicago net and roofed one by Corey Crawford for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

It was the exact type of shift Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been looking for from the former second-round pick.

“He was a crusher on that one – buried a guy,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know if physicality is the proper term. What I want to see is compete. We’ve talked about that. I don’t expect Ryan Spooner to lead our team in hits. But he has to win his share of pucks. How you do that, hard on your stick, sometimes it is body position, sometimes it is knocking a guy off the puck. It was good to see.”

Spooner has made being quicker to the puck one of his top priorities.

“We’ve talked about it before and I think the thing with me is I kind of get in there and I’m gliding a little bit,” said Spooner, who was credited with two hits in 16 minutes, 32 seconds of ice time against Chicago.

“I think [Cassidy] wants me to get in there and take some strides and just close because all the players are good here. If you give them time and space, they’re going to make plays, so as a center, I’ve just got to try to be a bit quicker.”

The Bruins have several young players competing for spots up front, including centers Austin Czarnik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Sean Kuraly. And with the likes of Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari, David Backes, and Riley Nash having the ability to play both wing and center, Spooner knows he must do everything he can to separate himself from the others and earn a spot on the roster.

His strong skills on the power play work in his favor (he led the Bruins with 4:18 of power-play time against the Blackhawks). But his success at the faceoff dot needs to improve. Spooner won just 39 percent of his draws last season and was 6 of 14 against Chicago.

“Then the third period, specifically, [I] put him out for a D-zone faceoff and he won one, he won maybe both,” said Cassidy. “Just some situations that he knows he has to be harder in. I think the rest of his game will take care of itself. But I thought he was good in that area of the game tonight.”

Blue Line Battle

With Torey Krug sidelined for at least a couple more weeks with a jaw fracture, a spot has opened up on the left side of the Bruins’ back end. Among those angling for the spot are Rob O’Gara (he was on the Opening Night roster a year ago), Matt Grzelcyk (he played two NHL games last season), and Jeremy Lauzon (he’s a first-year pro) – all of whom are left shots.

All three candidates suited up against the Blackhawks on Monday night and performed well. O’Gara led the team with 22 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time, while Grzelcyk (plus-1, one shot) was second among defensemen with 1:46 of ice time on the power play. Lauzon, meanwhile, potted his first goal of the preseason with a seeing-eye wrister from the point and landed three shots on goal.

“I know they push me and push the older guys,” the 24-year-old O’Gara said of the young talent. “It fosters a real competitive nature and it pushes everyone to be the best player they can be, and that’s exactly what you want going into a season. I think that’s the biggest thing to take from kind of coming up in a big group of young guys…pushing each other.

“And you know you’re not the only ones going through this stuff. So you have guys to lean on besides the vets who are awesome.”

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BOSTON – The Bruins’ training camp roster has been reduced, with three preseason games to go, and competition is heating up for roster spots.

That will continue to play out when the Black & Gold next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. ET at TD Garden.

All of the young defensemen competing for roles are expected to be in the lineup, with Rob O’Gara, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, and Paul Postma joining Brandon Carlo on the back end.

With Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller in solidified roles and McAvoy having showcased his game during the postseason, the opportunity exists for a young blueliner to claim Torey Krug’s spot while he heals from his jaw injury.

“I think it will be great. There’s a lot of internal competition within our team, and it’s fun when we have the opportunity to come together and play against another team,” said Carlo. “So it will be an enjoyable night, and you’ll see a lot of the youth and the speed out there tonight, so it should be pretty good.”

Carlo knows what it’s like to be in that position, competing for a role.

“I feel like coming in last year, I didn’t really know what to expect – I didn’t know where I was going to be at at the start of the year,” said Carlo. “And the opportunity came about and I feel like I took good advantage of playing with that opportunity last year and I feel like I’ve made good strides with the opportunity under my belt.”

Up front, forward Ryan Fitzgerald remains with the team. He has impressed Bruce Cassidy with his pace, and will get another opportunity to showcase his game in the lineup against Chicago.

“Fitzy, I liked his game. For me, I thought he’s done what we asked, so we’ll give him another game,” said Cassidy. “The [Kenny] Agostino injury has opened up a door, so a good opportunity for Fitzy. I thought he was a little ahead of the other guys, so that’s why we put him in.”

As the preseason dwindles down, Cassidy is keeping a close watch on the young players in particular, and knows what he wants to see from them.

“Well, [for them to] keep pushing. Consistency. Being strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger,” said Cassidy. “You’re getting closer to NHL lineups. Most teams like us are pairing down, in general, and I thought the lineup in Detroit was very strong, so some of the guys, that’s the expectation they’re going to see 82 times.”

Malcolm Subban will get the start tonight between the pipes.

Camp Roster Reduced

Among the roster reductions, forwards Anton Blidh, Colby Cave, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, and Zach Senyshyn were assigned to the Providence Bruins, along with defenseman Jakub Zboril and netminder Zane McIntyre.

Cassidy sees the prospects’ potential, and that their time with Providence will make them better players.

“A year of pro has made Danton Heinen better, and [Jake] DeBrusk, you can see the improvement in them,” said Cassidy. “We didn’t see DeBrusk up at all last year, we saw Heinen early in the year, and they’re better players for it, so that’s the plan.”

“They’ll go down there [to Providence], they’ll play, and progress, and we’ll see where they end up.”

Chris Breen, Connor Clifton, Taylor Doherty, Colton Hargrove and Chris Porter are all signed to AHL deals and will join the Providence Bruins’ training camp.

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BOSTON – Anton Khudobin is feeling energized as he makes his way through the 2017-18 preseason.

After a summer of workouts, training camp has him ready to go for the regular season.

“To be honest, you have a lot of energy, you have a lot of power in your body, and you actually don’t want to have that, because it’s just pushing you too much,” Anton Khudobin smiled, after an hour skate at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning.

“And you kind of want to get in that rhythm, but at the start of the season, that’s why we’re playing games right now and practicing, to get in that rhythm,” said Khudobin. “But it’s always fun. Opening night is very emotional, like you’re pretty much playing your first NHL game.”

Khudobin didn’t enjoy the way he started the 2016-17 season, coming back into the organization after being away for three seasons with Carolina and Anaheim. He started slow, and eventually found his game in the second half of the season.

“I don’t think I played bad. I thought I played good. We just, I just couldn’t win. That’s the main reason,” said Khudobin. “You know, even when you’re winning 6-5, you have five goals against on 20 shots, nobody talks about those five goals; everybody talks about the win, so same as that, I don’t remember how many games I played at the start – I just didn’t win.”

“And there was a lot of talks, and maybe pressure, whatever, so of course I want to play better every single game. Play even better than I finished the season. But there’s going to be some stretches and up and downs, so you have to go through them.”

Through the up-and-down experience last season, Khudobin learned how to embody a better approach.

“That stress that I put on myself, and I was hearing everything, and was like, ‘What’s going on?trying to figure it out,” said Khudobin. “Maybe just say ‘whatever’s going to be, just let it be,’ and that’s the main thing.”

The netminder feels ready to take on whatever challenges come his way this season – and play in as many games as he can.

“The more I’m playing, it’s much, much better for me, but I know my role – I’m backup here, so whenever the coach decides to put me in, will be great,” said Khudobin. “If not, then I just have to wait for it. If it’s going to be more often than last year, awesome. If not, then I just have to go through practice and extra work, and get into games.”

“I try to control what I can control and I’m focusing on my game. I’m focusing on practices, how to get ready, how to get ready for the practices and for the games, and at the same time, I’m a veteran player, so help the young guys, so that’s what I’m doing.”

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed media following the Bruins’ two practice sessions on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

Though the news has yet to be announced, the training camp roster is expected to be reduced by Monday.

“We’ll definitely have a smaller group moving forward,” said Cassidy.

The Bruins next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at TD Garden for their fifth preseason game, and final home game before opening night on Oct. 5.

Through the first four games, Cassidy and the Bruins’ staff have been evaluating the young players both up front and on the back end as they push for roster spots.

“There’s a lot of them, so we’re hoping some will separate themselves, and we’re seeing some of that,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy highlighted Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jesse Gabrielle having all stuck out at times during camp.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson hasn’t gotten as much of an opportunity because of his upper body injury, but he did skate with the team on Monday, so Cassidy included him in the mix as well. Cassidy also mentioned more experienced players like Sean Kuraly and Austin Czarnik.

On the back end, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Rob O’Gara are all getting looks. Cassidy said that O’Gara has been the most consistent in his all-around game. Charlie McAvoy is leading the way and has started to be paired with Kevan Miller.

“We didn’t expect anybody to come in necessarily on the back end and dominate; we want a guy to play well, be consistent, and slowly get better,” said Cassidy. “And one of them will have to do that, particularly with Torey [Krug] out [for three weeks]. If there’s more than that pushing the group, then we’ll see how it plays out.”

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Wreaking havoc during a National Hockey League game is an art form.

There is no right or wrong way to accomplish it. It can be done with speed and skill, or size and strength – or simply with the words that come out of a player’s mouth.

Brad Marchand has built a career on threading the needle between being a dynamic offensive talent and a superb agitator. The combination has made him a player loathed by opponents but adored by his teammates.

And it is that proper blend of ability and mischief that B’s forward prospect Jesse Gabrielle is seeking as he attempts to forge his way onto the Bruins roster.

Since being selected by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, the Saskatchewan native has modeled his style of play after Marchand and has often looked for guidance from Boston’s All-Star winger. And this training camp has been the perfect opportunity for the 20-year-old to pick the brain of his idol, who Gabrielle believes is the perfect blueprint for the type of player he would like to become.

“I try to learn from him,” said Gabrielle, who is entering his first pro season after notching 35 goals and 29 assists – to go along with 88 penalty minutes – in 61 games for Prince George of the WHL last season.

“He’s my favorite player and I try to emulate my game after him. I just try to be a sponge around him. When you can watch him play and experience it and have him on the bench….I’m just trying to be a sponge and learn from him.”

Such was the case on Thursday night after the Bruins 2-1 preseason victory over the Flyers.

Following a strong game in which Gabrielle’s speed and strength was on full display, the 6-foot, 205-pound winger was sent to the dressing room in the third period after a disagreement with the officials over an interference penalty. It was not the end to the night Gabrielle had planned.

“It was fun up until you get over that line just a little bit,” said Gabrielle, who had two shots on goal in just over 10 minutes of ice time against the Flyers, while playing on a line with Riley Nash and Noel Acciari.

“The whole game it was going good. I was getting underneath a lot of their guys’ skin. A lot of NHL guys were coming after me and it was a lot of fun. Like I said, it’s just a learning experience. You live and you learn. It’s not going to happen again.”

Part of Gabrielle’s education was seeking out his idol after the game.

“I went up to [Marchand] after the game and talked to him about it,” said Gabrielle, “and he said, ‘You just got to find that line.’ He said, ‘You’re going to get caught sometimes and you just got to learn from it.’”

Marchand understands the quandary Gabrielle faces. As a young player trying to break into the NHL on a full-time basis, he too battled the challenges of not crossing the line. He did not always succeed.

“For sure, especially early on,” Marchand said when asked if he saw similarities between himself and Gabrielle. “He’s doing whatever he has to do to open some eyes and make a name for himself and he’s good at what he does. He had the whole team [the Flyers] hating on him. He had a couple 2-on-1 opportunities, almost scored a goal. He did everything that he was supposed to do.

“I was the same way coming up. You just try to find your little niche that makes you different from other players and he definitely has that.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was hesitant to anoint Gabrielle as a Marchand progeny. But he certainly sees the similarities.

“Gets on top of pucks and disrupts the forecheck, very similar to March,” said Cassidy. “He’s got a good shot. He wants to be an agitator, so it is a good comparison. It’s a little premature, but for Jesse – for anybody – it’s a good player to emulate, a guy that fought his way out of the American Hockey League to the NHL, played on a lower line and worked his way up and just wouldn’t be denied. Definitely a good role model for him.”

That is not to say, however, that Cassidy would like to see a repeat of Thursday night anytime soon.

“It happened in Development Camp, so here’s a guy who walks on the edge, and I thought played a very good hockey game [Thursday],” Cassidy said of Gabrielle. “At ice level, he had a few other guys frustrated. If that is what makes him tick and he can stay on the right side of the line, then we’re OK with it.

“But clearly he crossed it [against the Flyers]. I think if as a young guy, you try to take on the officials in the National Hockey League, you are going to lose, and he lost tonight.”

After taking some time to reflect following the game – which included his talk with Marchand – Gabrielle certainly realized that.

“That’s something that can’t happen,” said Gabrielle. “I can’t let the boys down like that. Especially when it’s a tie game. It’s just stuff you move past and learn from it.”

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BOSTON – On Thursday, September 21, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney issued the following updates:

-Matt Beleskey is day-to-day with a foot contusion sustained during the Bruins preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec City on September 18.

-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is day-to-day with an upper body injury sustained during the Bruins preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings on September 19.

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug broke his jaw when he was hit in the face with a puck Tuesday against the Red Wings and will miss at least the rest of training camp.

The team said the 26-year-old suffered a non-displaced fracture and will be reevaluated in three weeks.

Krug had eight goals and a career-high 51 points in 81 games for the Bruins last season.

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Anders Bjork has been trying to take it all in. The winger has slid into a spot beside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for much of camp and has carefully taken note of how the veteran duo operates both on and off the ice.

His observations paid off during the B’s first preseason game on Monday night against Montreal. The 21-year-old skated with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner – Bergeron and Marchand did not travel to Quebec City for the game – and made an immediate impact, as he notched his first pro goal in the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Habs.

“I’ve been learning a lot from their example and them talking to us young guys,” said Bjork. “One of the biggest things is consistency through every drill and every shift in the game. You see how intense they are and how much they want to win every puck battle. That’s the biggest thing.”

Bjork was quick to realize the uptick in speed and strength when he took the ice against the Canadiens. And he knows the more experience he gets in game action, the more comfortable he will become.

“It was definitely physical. Definitely fast,” said Bjork. “You have to re-focus after every shift and be ready. For me, I’m not a big guy – I have to use my body and my speed a lot. I can’t take any shifts off from that.

“It was helpful to play a preseason game and [I] definitely feel a little more settled in after playing against the toughest competition.”

Playing on a line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak can no doubt be a difficult task for young player. And while Jake DeBrusk certainly acquitted himself well in that spot against the Red Wings, the winger at times found himself trying to appease his linemates.

“It still is preseason and it is your first game, but I think on the first shift I gave it to Krech and Krech gave it back to me and usually I would have shot that but I tried to find Krech again,” said DeBrusk. “It’s not like it was a bad play – it got through and I think [Torey] Krug might have wacked at it or something. We still made a chance out of it, but I usually shoot those.

“I was kind of laughing at myself after. I was like ‘Yeah, those are just some things I’m going to have to learn.’ And I thought that I learned as it went on [Tuesday night].”

Anton Khudobin played the full 60 minutes against Detroit and appeared to pick up where left off at the end of last season, when he won six of his last seven starts. Despite not having a ton of action with an early three-goal advantage against the Wings, the 31-year-old stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.

“I thought he was really good early on,” said Cassidy. “The second goal you’re always looking at, but it was a hell of a shot. I think those happen once in a great while, and you tip your hat to the shooter. So I was pleased with the way he played.”

With competition from Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban for the backup spot behind Tuukka Rask, Khudobin knows he must continue to perform as he did down the stretch to earn the job.

“Well, of course. It’s really important, and there’s no doubt that if I’m going to play the way I played those, whatever, last six weeks, it’s really important for the team,” said Khudobin. “It’s important for me. And it’s not a surprise for anybody [that] I need to play like this.”

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BOSTON – Sean Kuraly has his responses down to a science.Almost six months have passed since his unforgettable performance in Game 5 of the Bruins postseason series with Ottawa, but the questions have not ceased. His two-goal output – his first two career goals – which included the winner in double overtime, remained a topic of conversation for much of the summer.

It is a memory that the 24-year-old – and most Bruins fans – won’t soon forget.

But while Kuraly has gotten used to answering the questions, he does not want to be defined by that one game. As he enters his second training camp with Boston he’s attempting to establish himself as a permanent piece of the Bruins lineup.

“I think you kind of just take it day-by-day, kind of just take whatever comes,” said Kuraly. “It’s been a whirlwind, but I’m trying to refocus on this year. It was a good end to last year…there’s some work to do now.”

Kuraly played just eight regular season games with the Bruins last season before getting the call for four playoff contests with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner out with injuries. The 6-foot-2, 201-pound forward made an immediate impact by playing a strong North-South style and creating havoc in the Ottawa end during Game 5, while playing alongside David Backes and Noel Acciari.

“I think I just had clearer role,” Kuraly said of why he thrived during the playoffs. “It was pretty cool to be able to help the team and play North-South, a simple game…[I] used my body, used my speed.”

But the Ohio native is not banking on his playoff heroics guaranteeing him a roster spot. He knows he must continue to round out his game to earn a lasting place on the Bruins varsity, particularly with a large collection of forwards competing for limited openings.

“Everyone’s here to win a job,” said Kuraly, who notched 14 goals and 12 assists in 54 games for Providence last season. “I’m no different. I was doing the same last year and I’m going to try to do the same this year and try to make the team. I think we’re all trying to push each other and get better, bring the best out of each other.”

While Kuraly would like to turn the page on last spring’s breakout performance, there is still plenty that can be gained from the experience.

“I definitely think a year helped and I feel more comfortable,” said Kuraly. “There’s some familiar faces. I know some of the guys’ styles of play a little bit better. Just building off last year and taking steps in the right direction. There are going to be more steps that need to be taken.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been pleased with Kuraly thus far, but would like to see the forward continue to enhance his offensive game.

“He always looks good in camp, he’s a worker,” said Cassidy. “He covers ice in a hurry. That part of it we know we’re going to get no matter what. Let’s see how it translates on the ice. Will he have more confidence with the puck to grow his offensive game?”

So far in camp, Kuraly has been positioned at center, with the likes of Ryan Fitzgerald, Danton Heinen, and Chris Porter on his wings. One of his strengths is his ability to play as more of a hybrid center-wing mix, as he did during the postseason when he shared faceoff duties with Backes.

“I just really tried to play my best wherever they put me,” said Kuraly. “I played up the middle a lot last year in Providence and I’m kind of a natural there. But up the wing – when they define clear, simple, right up and down the wall – [I] kind of used my speed [and] it worked.”

DeBrusk Gets A Look

Over the first three days of camp, Jake DeBrusk has skated on the left side with David Krejci. And with the return of David Pastrnak on Saturday, the winger has had the opportunity to get an up-close look at how well the two work together.

“They were talking lots on the ice, we did more 3-on-2 stuff today compared to the last two days,” said DeBrusk. “I thought it got better as it went along, trying to make plays and find each other. With those two players they’re fun to play with and it’s truly exciting to play with them.”

Game Time

The Bruins will travel to the Videotron Centre in Quebec City on Monday for their first preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens. Cassidy said the roster is not quite set, but that it will be a “predominantly younger team.” Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre will be the two goalies.

Cassidy also was not putting too much stock into the game, saying systems and line matching would be less important than evaluating players on their individual performances. The rivalry, he said, will also take a bit of a back seat at this stage of the season.

“I don’t think this game is much of a storyline other than it’s the first game for both teams, probably evaluating the talent,” said Cassidy. “Obviously in the regular season we’ll have full lineups and it’s Bruins-Canadiens, it’s a rivalry. This one I think I’ll be spending a lot more time on our guys, not worrying about line matchups and all that stuff.

“We’ll be looking at how we’ll be playing, our energy and pace, and how individuals we’re evaluating, are they able to do what they’re asked to do. Hopefully the score goes in our favor, but that’s what we’ll be looking at.”

Cuts Coming

Cassidy said it is unlikely any roster cuts will come until after the first two preseason games, perhaps on Wednesday or Thursday.

“Donny [Sweeney] and I will have to meet,” said Cassidy. “I would guess after these first two games, especially the younger guys. If I’m not mistaken, some of the seasons are starting – European guys, juniors. Providence I believe opens up their camp next Monday.

“How do we keep them active and still keep the practices that we want? I would say by Thursday there will be less bodies.”

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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.”