BOSTON — The time is winding down until puck drop on the Bruins’ 2015-16 season.
Are you ready? The Bruins are.
In the hours leading up to their matchup with the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden at 7:00 p.m., the players were impatiently awaiting Game No. 1 of the journey.
“It’s the best,” David Krejci smiled following the B’s pregame skate on Thursday morning. “Opening night, it’s the best. Looking forward to it, looking forward also for the fans, to feed off their energy, it’s going to be awesome — it’s going to be a fun night.”
“Really excited,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Every year — it doesn’t get old, to start the season, especially at home in front of our fans.”
The atmosphere around the team has been optimistic since the first day of training camp. With three weeks of preseason action in the past, it’s finally time for the Black & Gold to display its pride on the ice.
“Everybody’s excited,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “When you go through training camp and play those preseason games and finally at the end of the preseason, you still you’re still here and you’ve got an opportunity to play for this organization, I think it’s great for the players, it’s great for us as coaches to get the season started.”
BOSTON — Captain Zdeno Chara will not be in the Bruins’ opening night lineup on Thursday, when they host the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden at 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
“He’s out,” Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed following Boston’s morning skate.
All signs are still positive, though, in Chara’s recovery from an upper-body sustained during the preseason on Sept. 24.
“It’s getting better every day,” said Julien. “It is. There’s no doubt today [Thursday] he felt better than yesterday [Wednesday], so we’re hoping that it’s going to be sooner than later and that could be next game for all we know.”
Boston will next host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. But first, the Jets are on tap for Thursday’s opener, and the Bruins will make do without their Captain.
BOSTON — From the start of training camp, the Bruins made it clear that their team would be a hard working one.
“That’s what kind of team we’ve got, we’ve got a hard working team, trying to play physical, in-your-face style of hockey, that’s going to be a trademark of our squad this year,” Jimmy Hayes said Wednesday from TD Garden, on the eve of the Bruins’ home opener.
“As you see in preseason, the team’s a close-knit group that’s come together pretty quickly.”
As the team held their final full practice on Wednesday before Thursday night’s season opener at TD Garden against Winnipeg, every Bruin was impatiently awaiting the drop of the puck on 2015-16.
“That first shift [Thursday] night, it’s going to be a whole nother level from preseason,” said Matt Beleskey, who can hardly be considered a new face anymore, having been inbred with his teammates now for a month and a half. “So I’m excited for that, [let’s] get back to NHL hockey.”
BOSTON — With just two days remaining until the official beginning of the 2015-16 season, there was a very welcome sight on the Bruins’ practice ice on Tuesday.
Captain Zdeno Chara participated in a full practice with his teammates for the first time since sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury on Sept. 22.
“I felt good,” Chara said afterward. “It was nice to be out there with the team, with the guys, doing drills.”
Following practice, Head Coach Claude Julien said Chara’s presence on Tuesday offers reason to be optimistic.
“It’s a good sign to have him out there today,” Julien said. “I think we continue to do what we call the daily evaluation of him. Let’s see how he feels [Wednesday], after practicing with the team. We’ll continue to do that until we know that he’s really ready to go.
“Right now, I think it’s nice for everybody to see him out there with us and practicing. It’s his first practice in quite a while, so hopefully he gains as much as he can for the time being.”
BOSTON — The Bruins were back to work on Sunday morning for practice at TD Garden after a day off on Saturday.
The B’s wrapped up their preseason on Friday night in Washington D.C. against the Capitals. The 2-1 shootout loss put them at 4-3-1 through their seven exhibition games.
The real season begins this Thursday, Oct. 8 when the Bruins host Winnipeg. They’ll get another day off on Monday, before convening for two more practices in advance of the opener.
“I think it’s a luxury to have this situation because again, we’re able to work on our game and after the last game in Washington, it was pretty obvious to us watching our team that there’s some parts of our game that need some work,” Head Coach Claude Julien said Sunday from TD Garden. “And that’s what we’ve got the opportunity to do this week before the opener, is to work on those parts of our game that’s going to make us better.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tuukka Rask is ready for regular season action.
The No. 1 netminder started the Bruins’ final preseason matchup on Friday night against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, stopping all 15 shots he faced through 40 minutes of action.
Boston ended up falling 2-1 to the Capitals in the shootout, though Rask didn’t go the full distance.
With Rask looking sharp, calm and plenty tuned up for the home opener on Oct. 8, Jeremy Smith filled in for the final 20 minutes of regulation, the five minute 3-on-3 overtime period and the shootout.
“It felt like I usually kind of feel — you see the puck and you feel comfortable and big out there and you don’t have to rush your movements that much because you’re reading the play,” Rask said postgame from the Verizon Center. “And I felt like I had my legs under me and I was moving well, so that’s a good thing.”
While the game started fairly slow for both sides shots-wise, Rask had to be sharp on the few chances he saw, when Caps found ways to get in behind the Bruins’ defense.
BOSTON — With the preseason winding down, the Bruins will play their final exhibition game on Friday night against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Dave Goucher and Bob Beers will have the radio call of the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The game will also air on NHL Network in the U.S. (simulcast of Capitals’ live coverage on CSN-DC).
With General Manager Don Sweeney announcing another round of roster cuts on Thursday evening, 24 players hit the ice for a morning practice at TD Garden on Friday before the team traveled to Washington D.C.
Captain Zdeno Chara continued skating on his own prior to the full practice.
The lineup that the Bruins are set to have on Friday night will be the closest they have come to icing their full roster this preseason.
“There’s still some evaluation to be made, whether it be certain players and obviously we’ve still got to cut down a little bit,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following Friday’s morning skate. “And I don’t think that necessarily what you see tonight is the final roster and stuff like that.”
“We’re leaving Max Talbot behind, we’re leaving [Jonas] Gustavsson behind, working out with [Goaltending Coach] Bob [Essensa] doing extra work today, so we haven’t made a decision on our goaltending yet, as far as the backup is concerned.”
BOSTON — The Bruins announced another round of roster cuts on Thursday evening, as one final preseason game remains before the Bruins open the regular season in a week on Oct. 8.
The roster now stands at 25 players, including Zdeno Chara, who has been out day-to-day since sustaining an upper-body injury. Apart from Chara, that leaves 14 forwards, seven defenseman and three goaltenders.
Boston started with a training camp roster of 60 players. The latest cuts included forwards Anton Blidh, Alex Khokhlachev and Brian Ferlin, all assigned to the Providence Bruins. Defenseman Tommy Cross was placed on waivers Thursday for the purpose of assignment to Providence.
Chris Breen, Brandon DeFazio and Ben Sexton had all been recalled to play in the second to last preseason game on Wednesday night against the Rangers in New York — they were all reassigned to Providence.
“We made a couple other transactions before practice and we’ll also make a couple — we have not spoken to a couple of the player — right here after practice,” Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said immediately following the team’s 11:00 a.m. practice on Thursday. “We’ve cut down the roster significantly again.”
Sweeney was addressing reporters during the Bruins’ Media Day press conference, which also included Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, President Cam Neely and Head Coach Claude Julien.
BOSTON — The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Thursday morning at TD Garden with a group of 26 players.
Captain Zdeno Chara skated prior to practice with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides. It has been a week since he sustained his upper-body injury in a preseason game and was ruled out day-to-day.
Chara began skating on his own on Monday, and his workouts have progressed throughout the week to include more conditioning, stickhandling and shooting drills with Whitesides.
As the preseason winds down, the Bruins have just one exhibition game remaining on Friday, Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.
They’ll need to get to their 23-man Opening Night roster by Tuesday, Oct. 6 with the NHL kicking off the season on Oct. 7. The Bruins host Winnipeg in their opener at TD Garden on Oct. 8.
While no roster cuts had been announced by the end of the Bruins’ 11:00 a.m. practice on Thursday, the following players were not on the ice for the skate: forwards Anton Blidh, Brandon DeFazio, Alex Khokhlachev and Ben Sexton; and defenseman Chris Breen. All five players suited up in Wednesday night’s preseason game in New York against the Rangers.
NEW YORK — When asked if he has done everything he can do to make his case for the backup goaltending job in Boston, Jonas Gustavsson was honest.
“I mean, you can always do better,” he said following Boston’s 3-2 loss to New York on Wendesday night at Madison Square Garden. “That’s the mentality I have, at least. That’s what drives me and makes me want to get better.”
Gustavsson knew there was plenty at stake for him on Wednesday night. He is on a tryout agreement with Boston and is fighting for employment. He knows it is down to him and Jeremy Smith for the job, and he knows that with Head Coach Claude Julien intending to start Tuukka Rask in Boston’s preseason finale on Friday, this could have been his final opportunity to show what he can do.
But to him, there was no point in dwelling on that decision heading into Wednesday’s game. Not if it would interfere with his focus.