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Matt Grzelcyk knows perhaps better than anyone in the Bruins dressing room what the New England Patriots mean to the region. The 24-year-old blue liner grew up in Charlestown as a Patriots fan and has watched firsthand the team’s dominant run of five Super Bowl titles over the last 17 seasons.

“I can remember when they won their first Super Bowl,” said Grzelcyk. “Obviously they’ve been unbelievable, this stretch they’ve gone on is insane. There’s a reason why they’re so good, you can see how they are on the sidelines with each other, how passionate they are.

“It gives us a little bit of motivation to try to keep up with them. It’s awesome to see and it’s been great to be a part of it and see it firsthand growing up in Boston.”

Grzelcyk was one of several Bruins who attended the Pats’ thrilling 24-20, comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Also in attendance were Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Paul Postma, and Tuukka Rask.

“It’s nice to be a Patriots fan the last few years, a great day yesterday,” said David Krejci. “A few guys went to the game so I’m sure they had a blast. We do have lots of Americans on the team, they have their own team, but playing here I think you have to become a Patriots fan, they always win. It’s good to be a Boston fan.”

The Pats’ victory clinched a spot in their eighth Super Bowl of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, an unprecedented run of success that has highlighted the golden age of Boston sports.

“You can’t help but get caught up in it. I’ve been in New England 10 years…you can see how teams continually can’t put the Patriots way…they’re in people’s heads,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who visited Patriots training camp this past summer and met with owner Robert Kraft.

“It’s an amazing quality that this team has, the culture that they’ve created, their identity. We’d love to be that, where we’re coming at you, we’re coming at you and it doesn’t matter what happens right until the bitter end. We’ll see where that goes.

“You’ve got to be champions to do that, there’s guys in this locker room that were and would like to again. The younger guys that haven’t hopefully that’s one of the things that they embrace.”

Grzelcyk, one of the Bruins’ five rookies, believes the Patriots provide plenty of lessons he and his fellow youngsters can draw from.

“I think they’re just really good at not overcomplicating things,” said Grzelcyk. “The motto is do your job, just very simple, just go out there and do what’s asked of you. I think that’s something that’s stuck with us. We’re trying to take it one game at a time right now and apply that to our game.”

One of the other special things about Boston sports is the camaraderie between all the teams in town. Last spring, Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined the B’s for a skate at the end of practice and earlier this month Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Rex Burkhead, Jordan Richards, Shea McClellin, and Geneo Grissom attended the B’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Cooks, who purchased a Patrice Bergeron jersey before the game, then joined his teammates for a visit with Boston’s alternate captain following his four-goal outburst in the 7-1 win over the ‘Canes.

In addition to Cassidy’s visit to training camp, a group of Bruins, which included Rask, Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Nash, Brandon Carlo, and Tim Schaller, took in a Patriots practice earlier this fall.

“Year after year, they’ve been really good. Obviously Tom Brady has been around a long time and they have a good coach. It’s fun to watch,” said Krejci. “I picked good years to be playing for Boston and becoming a Patriots fan…once our games are done we try to support the other teams as well.”

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Despite a thrilling four-goal outburst in the second period that propelled the Bruins to a two-goal lead, Boston headed into their bye week with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Evgeni Malkin potted his second goal of the night at 2:51 of the extra session, marking a sour – albeit respectable – end to the B’s first half, as they head into their five-day break riding an 11-game points streak.

“We got the start that we wanted, we got that first goal. But then we got away from our game and they took it to us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We know they’re a good team, especially on the power play. We didn’t go a good job on the penalty kill. We got back, the second period was a great period and third was up and down, we could have done some better things.

“But they’re a good team, they’re good offensively and there’s some breakdowns that were uncharacteristic of us lately, but we stuck with it and got a point out of it. Obviously we know we can be a lot better.”

After the four-goal barrage during the second, which included tallies from Brad Marchand, Noel Acciari, David Pastrnak, and David Backes, the Bruins appeared poised to pull away for another convincing victory as they opened up a 5-3 advantage. But Pittsburgh was not interested in going down quietly.

With 3.6 seconds to go in the middle frame, Malkin struck for his first of the game and the Penguins’ second power-play tally of the night to get back within a goal. It was not quite a dagger, but it was certainly a damaging blow, as Pittsburgh came out with plenty of momentum in the third and tied the game, 5-5, on Riley Sheahan’s tally just 2:54 into the period.

“I imagine it gave them more life than sucked life out of us. We still had a lead, we came from two down. But I think it gave them some pop going into the third and it showed,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “You don’t want to give those up. We had two opportunities to clear, that’s the unfortunate part. But that’s been a bit of an Achilles’ heel – our PK’s been terrific all year, the one area that we need to sure up is our clears and it got us there.”

Boston had a golden chance to re-gain the lead when Marchand was awarded a penalty shot with 1:01 to go in regulation. Marchand nearly sneaked a backhander through Matt Murray, but the netminder – who had replaced Jarry following the Bruins’ fifth goal – made the stop, as he did on all six shots he faced in relief.

“When I pulled to my backhand it got stuck in the snow a little bit. There was room there, I just missed it,” said Marchand, who had a goal and an assist. “Back-and-forth game. We didn’t have the start that we wanted, but we bounced back. Gave away a point there, but three out of four on a back-to-back is not bad and now we have to make sure we continue after the break.”

Boston’s five-goal output marked the fourth straight game and fifth time in the last six that it has scored at least five. Four of the goals came within a 9:50 span of the second period.

After Marchand’s goal brought the Bruins back within a goal at 7:18, Acciari struck just 60 seconds later when a Brandon Carlo shot tipped off his chest to tie the game at 3. Pastrnak followed up with his marker just under four minutes later to put Boston ahead, before Backes doubled the lead with 2:52 remaining in the third.

“Ebbs and flows I guess,” said Cassidy. “It seemed like we had pockets of really good hockey. We had pockets where we just lost focus and didn’t look like the team I’m used to seeing every night, in terms of how we played, respect of the game, manage pucks and decisions on line changes – right to the bitter end.

“At the end of the day, we get a point out of it, so you look at the positives, against a good hockey club. But it looked like we were gonna do better than that.”

Bergeron Stitched Up

After taking a Kris Letang shot to the inside of his right knee, Patrice Bergeron needed assistance as he hobbled down the tunnel to the dressing room in the closing seconds of the first period. But the centerman, fresh off a four-goal, five-point night against the Hurricanes, escaped any major damage and returned for the second

Bergeron said he felt more and more stable on the knee as the final two periods progressed. X-rays taken during the first intermission were negative, though he did require a few stitches following the game.

“It didn’t feel good. It was one of those that hit where there was no padding and it was a pretty good shot,” said Bergeron, who still managed to play over 18 minutes. “It definitely stings. We just wanted to make sure there was nothing – X-rays were negative, nothing’s broken. I needed stitches there.

“I was trying to get that going and we decided to just do them after the game so that I could come back for the second. It was good that I had the intermission to kind of reset.”

His return was certainly appreciated by his teammates.

“He’s a warrior. Got to give that guy a lot of credit, he’ll play through anything. We’ve seen it plenty of times before,” said Marchand. “He’s the kind of guy you want to follow and that’s why we’re good because we have that leadership. He’s an incredible player to watch and learn from and we’re lucky to have him.”

Rask Streak Continues

Tuukka Rask (29 saves) extended his career-high points streak to 13 games (11-0-2) with the overtime setback. But Boston’s ace netminder was far from pleased with his performance, as the six goals allowed were a season high.

“I was [bad] all game, all night. I felt like [crap] and didn’t see the puck,” said Rask. “Wasn’t sharp. Weak goals…one of those days. Not feeling as sharp as usual. Against a team like this that’s going to create some scoring chances, probably not ideal.”

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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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The Bruins knew they had their work cut out for them on Saturday night. Boston was getting its first look at rookie sniper Matthew Barzal, who has joined an already potent New York Islanders lineup that includes John Tavares, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey to form one of the NHL’s best offensive attacks.

A strong defensive effort was needed from top to bottom. And that’s exactly what the Bruins put forth.

Led by a 30-save performance by Tuukka Rask and some stifling play from the back end, the B’s charged to a 3-1 victory over the Isles at TD Garden for their eighth win in 10 games.

“We talked about the one thing that we had to really take care of was our D-zone tonight and we definitely did that,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Especially against an offensive team like the Islanders with so many gifted players, you can’t give them space and room, especially in the slot. I thought we kept them on the outside for the most part.

“Obviously they’re going to get some chances, they’re good players, but I thought it was a really good effort.”

Contributing to the stingy performance was Boston’s penalty kill. The unit had a perfect night in shutting down all four of New York’s power plays, which included two five-minute majors in the third period – one on Brad Marchand for interference and one on David Backes for head butting. On both majors, the Bruins drew penalties which helped limit the time they spent shorthanded.

“Those majors ended up being kind of three-minte power plays for them and then we draw a penalty. We cut it in half twice,” said Zdeno Chara. “That’s something that shows guys are working hard even away from the puck. Even when we are shorthanded we are capable of being dangerous and that’s what happened, we drew some penalties.”

Boston has now allowed one goal or fewer in three of its last four games and is playing its best all-around hockey of the season in front of Rask, who has won four straight starts. Including his relief performance in Nashville, the B’s ace netminder has allowed just five goals over his last five games for a 1.10 goals against average and .955 save percentage.

“Making those saves you can see he’s clear. He’s ready for anything, for every shot, and he looks confident,” said Bergeron. “Tonight he was great.”

After a tough month of November, during which he ceded the net to Anton Khudobin for a four-game stretch, Rask has found his stride and appears relaxed and composed between the pipes. Rask credited the play in front of him for his recent success.

“I’ve had good rhythm to my game,” said Rask. “Guys are doing a good job eliminating the second chances and obviously if you don’t get rebounds all the time it helps too, but we’re skating back so hard that we are kind of forcing them to take shots in bad spots and when they don’t have all the time in the world to pick the corners up, it’s kind of easier for me too.

“I think that’s played a huge part of that, coming back to our own zone and shutting them down in the slot area and also blocking a ton of shots. We’re not shying away from that, so I think all of those things together have made it.”

Much of the strong play in front of Rask came from the pairing of Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. With Boston’s No. 1 duo of Chara and Charlie McAvoy assigned to track the Islanders top line, the responsibility of defending Barzal, Andrew Ladd, and Jordan Eberle fell to Krug and Carlo. The tandem had a terrific night as they kept the Islanders second-line trio off the board.

“That kid’s a heck of a player,” Krug, who had two assists, said of Barzal. “Seems like the puck follows him around. A couple bigger bodies that play with him and get to the net. It was a fun matchup for Brandon and myself. We both skate well and tried to shut them down with good gaps. When he’s coming at you with all that speed it’s tough, but I thought we did a good job overall.”

Barzal did manage a point – with Chara and McAvoy on the ice as the penalty to Backes expired – when he picked up an assist on Lee’s goal that cut the Bruins lead to 2-1 with just 3:08 remaining. It was all the Islanders could muster.

“We did a good job – obviously they’re a good team with some firepower and some really skilled guys, so we did a good job of defending from the inside out and Tuukks played a heck of a game,” said Krug. “He got a chance to see a lot of pucks and played it with a lot of confidence and our penalty killers were great.”

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The fight for the first hat trick was on and everything was looking just fine.

Entering the third period, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had two goals apiece. And with the Bruins holding on to a two-goal lead over the Buffalo Sabres, they were searching for some insurance and their second consecutive victory.

But the hat tricks and the extra cushion never came.

Boston surrendered the lead in the third and ultimately fell in overtime on Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly’s tally with 2:01 remaining in the extra session.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Pastrnak said following the 5-4 loss to Buffalo at TD Garden on Saturday night. “We got one point…we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us. It’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

There was some question about whether or not there was goalie interference on the winning goal after Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen knocked into Anton Khudobin in the crease. But after an officials’ review it was determined that Torey Krug initiated the contact that led to the collision.

“Well you guys saw it,” said Khudobin, who made 37 saves. “I think that’s interference. He crushed me, pretty much. I mean, we have the referees and it’s their call, but I felt like I didn’t have a chance to even move there. So maybe they said that our guy cross-checked him or whatever, but maybe that’s a penalty, not a goal.”

Ultimately, the Bruins felt they could have done much more to prevent the extra session. Boston held two three-goal leads and entered the third period with a 4-2 advantage. But tallies from former Bruin Benoit Pouliot early in the final frame and Evander Kane with just 2:08 to go in regulation – just seconds after the expiration of Brandon Carlo’s interference penalty – forced overtime.

“Just let it slip away from us,” said Krug, who picked up his first assist of the season. “We needed a big play, needed to get out of a mess and we just couldn’t do it. We hold ourselves accountable and it hurts. Especially with the long layoff before the next game.”

The Bruins appeared to be en route to a blowout early on. With Buffalo on the second end of a back-to-back after falling to Vancouver on Friday night, Boston opened the scoring with goals from Pastrnak and Marchand (on the power play) later in the first and added another on Marchand’s second of the night just 37 seconds into the middle period to build a 3-0 lead.

Jason Pominville got Buffalo on the board at 8:01 of the second, before Pastrnak grabbed his second of the night just over three minutes later to extend Boston’s lead back to three goals.

“We came out in the third and we wanted to continue pouring it on,” said Charlie McAvoy, who had his fifth and sixth assists of the season. “And we had some good shifts when we played in their zone. They were getting it up and getting it in, they were working hard. They had a good forecheck and good sticks. And it’s up to us to protect that lead.”

But Jack Eichel’s tally with 3:53 to go in the second brought Buffalo within two and provided the Sabres with some hope heading into the third. It proved to be the first of four unanswered goals for Buffalo.

“They obviously had the momentum and we really didn’t regain it at any point,” said Marchand. “You always have those momentum swings in the games, but it’s kind of how you handle them and we didn’t do a good job with that tonight.

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re gonna have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one.”

The injuries to Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller forced Paul Postma into action for the first time this season. Postma, paired with Rob O’Gara for much of the night, played well, landing three shots on goal and three hits with a plus-1 rating in 11 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time.

“Actually pretty good, a little nervous at the start,” Postma said of how he felt. “You can skate in practice as much as you want, but you can’t compare that to a game, and the first couple shifts got the nerves going a little bit, but once I got my feet under me, I felt pretty good.”

O’Gara, recalled from Providence on an emergency basis Saturday morning, was also making his season debut. The blue liner landed one hit and blocked three shots in 14 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time.

“It’s been a long day today with the drive up from Providence this morning, but it felt good,” said O’Gara. “Just trying to stay within myself, playing psychical, being assertive. I think doing that more and more just a little each game…when I’m comfortable and confident is when I play my best.

“I think that will take a little bit of time, but I felt good with how I did tonight.”

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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 BostonBruins.com/FanFestTour

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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 – There was no such thing as choosing sides on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park – at least before the Red Sox’ afternoon tilt against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In a show of solidarity, the Bruins joined members of the Florida Panthers, Red Sox, and Rays prior to the game to help raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Irma, which came ashore in Florida on Sunday with Category 4 strength.

Bruins Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Noel Acciari, Kenny Agostino, Paul Postma, and Brandon Carlo were stationed at Fenway’s gates alongside various members of the other participating teams to collect donations from fans attending the game.

“Unity – we just want to help out, we want to show how much we care about other states. I think it goes a long ways,” said Chara. “Teams came together. [It] doesn’t matter [that] we’re going to be competing in the season…right now is the time to help out.”

Former Bruin Shawn Thornton, now the Panthers Vice President of Business Operations, and current Panthers Aaron Eckblad, Derek MacKenzie, Mike Matheson, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysk, James Reimer, Colton Sceviour, Vincent Trochek, and Keith Yandle also took part. Members of the Panthers organization evacuated Florida on Friday and traveled to Boston to be close to the facilities of the Springfield Thunderbirds, the team’s AHL affiliate.

“Everybody’s pretty aware of what’s going on down South right now and our hearts are with those guys. Anything we can do to help, we’re here for that,” said Miller. “The Florida Panthers came up. Obviously they can’t practice down there, so they came up here – and Tampa’s here as well. It’s a group effort, anything we can do to help.”

Red Sox players Joe Kelly, Deven Marrero, Blake Swihart and former Boston closer Keith Foulke, along with Rays pitchers Steve Cishek and Jake Odorizzi, also helped gather donations.

All donations will go to support the Red Cross to assist the region of South Florida. The Boston Bruins Foundation will match the total funds raised at the gates.

“We know we can only do so much,” said Chara. “But every little bit is hopefully going to [make] a difference to the families and those who are most affected by the hurricane.”