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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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Paul Postma understands his role. As Boston’s seventh defenseman for much of this season, it’s been the veteran blue liner’s job to be prepared when called upon.

So despite having played just once over Boston’s last eight games, the 28-year-old is more than ready to return to action tonight against the Red Wings.

“That’s why you play the game and love it. You look forward to every chance you get to play,” said Postma, who has suited up for 11 games this season. “I think the hardest thing for me is more of a mental game than a physical game, just making sure that I’m ready mentally to go.”

Postma will be sliding in alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the B’s third pairing in place of Kevan Miller. Miller will miss the game in Detroit after he and his wife, Haley, welcomed their first child late Tuesday night back in Boston.

“Mom and the baby are doing very well – healthy,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Kevan is going to stay behind and hopefully will join us tomorrow. He’s a happy man right now. Didn’t get any sleep last night, so we figured for everyone’s sake let’s let him enjoy his moment.”

Postma, who has not played since Nov. 29 against Tampa Bay when the Bruins dressed seven defensemen, will be trying to keep it simple against the Red Wings.

“Don’t overthink things out there, just do what comes naturally to me and try to get pucks on net when I can,” said Postma. “My skill is skating and trying to jump up in the rush, I’m going to do that as much as I can.”

Cassidy has been pleased with that portion of Postma’s game to this point, but would like to see the blue liner be a bit more aggressive at the Bruins’ end of the rink.

“The biggest thing we’ve asked Paul to do is get up and play more of our style, where you’re up closing your gaps and confronting and denying entry at the blue line with those things,” said Cassidy.

“It’s maybe a change for him from previously. But at the end of the day, that’s one area we want to be better at and recognize and build into his game.”

Spooner Still Sidelined

Per Cassidy, Ryan Spooner is still not ready to return to the lineup and will miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury.

“We’re going to wait that one out to be sure,” said Cassidy. “We’re never going to be 100 percent sure, but we just want to give it as much time as possible. He’s still day-to-day and we’ll look at tomorrow after tonight’s game.”

Counter Punch

Detroit has lost nine of its last 10 (1-5-4), but Cassidy is not overlooking the skill and speed the Red Wings present up front. Twenty-one-year-old Dylan Larkin paces the Wings with 23 points (4 goals, 19 assists) in 30 games this season.

“They’re a good team, they’ve played better than their record indicates lately,” said Cassidy. “They’ve got a good group of forwards that play fast. If you’re not controlling your gaps and letting them behind you it’s going to be a tough night for us.

“We’ve got to make sure that we counter that with good checking position and puck possession, force them to defend us so that they’re not always on the attack. That’s going to be our game plan tonight and let’s hope we can execute it.”

Where the Pizza At?

The Bruins are making their inaugural regular-season visit to Little Caesar’s Arena, which replaced the famed Joe Louis Arena at the start of this year. The new digs are quite impressive, but there won’t be any real adjustments to be made on the Bruins’ end.

“It’s a nice building, very nicely done and beautiful place,” said Zdeno Chara. “The plan is the same, we’ve got to come out and focus on yourself and play your game.”

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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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The Bruins returned home from their road trip and claimed a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Five different scorers found the back of the net for the Bruins, paced by the first line of Brad Marchand, Anders Bjork, and Patrice Bergeron. The trio accounted for 10 points, led by Bergeron in his first game back from injury (1-3-4).

The B’s continue the homestand with a Saturday-night tilt against the Buffalo Sabres. Boston’s leading scorer, Brad Marchand (4-5-9), spoke about building on the positive momentum gained from the victory over Vancouver.

“We want to try to string a few good games together here,” said Marchand. “We definitely can take some positives out of last game and build on them, and errors we can always clean up. If we can do that, then hopefully we continue to improve our game.”

McQuaid Out, Postma In?

In what has become a common theme early this season, the Bruins have lost another veteran player to injury. Adam McQuaid will miss eight weeks with a broken right fibula after blocking a shot for the second time in as many games on Thursday against Vancouver.

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy commended McQuaid for his willingness to sacrifice his body.

“He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room,” said Cassidy. “Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates…every team needs Adam McQuaids, and we’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

In the absence of McQuaid, Bruins offseason free agent signing Paul Postma is ready to fill in should he get the call.

“You never want to see injuries,” said Postma. “Adam is a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and those things happen. Obviously, wish him the best and we’re going to miss him a lot, but it’s up to the other guys to step up. I’m going to get a chance to play now and make the most of it.

“I’m ready and I’m excited. I’m excited to play my first game as a Bruin.”

Opposing Views

Similar to the Bruins, a number of Sabres have been felled by injuries already during the young season. Seven Buffalo players missed practice on Thursday, including Jacob Josefson, Josh Gorges, Zemgus Girgensons, Zach Bogosian, Justin Falk, Evan Rodrigues and starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

Buffalo has compiled a 1-4-2 record thus far, and their last matchup came against the upstart Vegas Golden Knights. The Sabres came back from a three-goal third-period deficit, before ultimately falling to the Knights in overtime.

Buffalo will be coming off a back-to-back as they battled the Bruins previous opponent, the Vancouver Canucks.

Forward Evander Kane paces the Sabres on the attack. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound forward leads Buffalo in goals (5) and points (10), and leads the NHL with two short-handed goals. The Sabres scoring is supplemented by veteran Jason Pominville (4-5-9) and young star Jack Eichel (2-7-9).

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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.”