SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN - One game remains on the preseason schedule for the Bruins, as they prepare to suit up for the second game of their back-to-back against the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Saskatoon at the Credit Union Centre.
Game time is set for 9:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. local).
The match-up offers one final look for Head Coach Claude Julien and his staff, and one last go-round before the restless Bruins get into regular season action.
Originally, Julien would have liked to ice his full regular season lineup in the final preseason game, but tough decisions still linger, so it will just be "close" to that lineup tonight.
"We knew we would have hard decisions right from the get-go," Julien told reporters following the morning skate. "I don’t know if they’re harder, but there’s guys that have gotten into the mix that maybe we didn’t anticipate being in the mix. But the hard decisions I’ve anticipated all along."
BostonBruins.com - Ryan Spooner is well aware that the Bruins are deep at center.
"I think the writing's on the wall with that, I haven't played the wing here yet. I think they want to keep me at the center position," Spooner said following his fifth preseason game Thursday night, in which he helped the B's to a 3-2 overtime win with his tying goal and then slick feed to Loui Eriksson for the winner.
"And I've played that my entire life, so I don't mind waiting. Whenever they think that I'm ready, I'll be ready to go."
With Spooner making a strong case for himself to stay with the big club, based on play alone this preseason and marked improvement to his all-around game, patience may now be the toughest part.
"Well, he's been good, he's opened some eyes there's no doubt about that," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the win.
"His skating, playmaking ability…there's still some areas where we keep talking to him about improving but he's certainly one of the guys that's got himself in the mix and certainly deserves some consideration once we make that final decision."
WINNIPEG, MB - Loui Eriksson turned the tide of the scoresheet on Thursday night in Winnipeg, roofing the overtime-winner to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Jets at MTS Centre.
The stat sheet could have read 0-for-5 on the power play, and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill, in a special teams battle won by the home team.
But when a puck caromed off Ryan Spooner's skate, something began to happen. Dennis Seidenberg quickly sent the puck to the center already in stride down the right side, with a streaking Eriksson on his left, creating the 2-on-1 rush.
Spooner waited, waited, faked the shot with his eyes, and sent a feed through the hash marks to Eriksson, who kicked it to his stick and whipped it top shelf under the cross bar behind Ondrej Pavelec for technically his first goal in game action in the spoked-B. Horn sounds. Game over.
WINNIPEG, MB - When those in the spoked-B hit the ice for their pregame skate on Thursday morning at the MTS Centre, the players represented those in tonight's lineup against the Jets.
With Patrice Bergeron's line and the Merlot Line in the lineup, the second and third lines are full of the forwards competing for a spot on the opening night roster.
"It's good that you have those tough decisions," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, following the team's morning skate. "Who isn't here will likely end up in Providence and you run into injuries and so we need those guys to be able to step into our lineup and play."
BostonBruins.com - For the first time during training camp, besides a split-squad scrimmage, the Bruins were all joined together in one practice on Wednesday morning before traveling to Winnipeg for their final two preseason games against the Jets.
The newcomer to the B's organization this summer has been getting the look on that line for the past two games, first in a 2-0 win in Detroit, and then in the 3-2 overtime win over the Capitals at TD Garden, where he assisted on Kelly's game-winner.
"It's been good so far; we've definitely gotten a little lucky on a couple of chances, especially Kells the other night on the OT winner," he said, before heading on the road to Winnipeg.
Smith always has the aura about him that he's just happy to be here, no matter how it turns out come opening night.
BostonBruins.com - With Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson and Malcolm Subban already getting their chance to start a preseason game between the pipes, Thursday night in Winnipeg against the Jets will be Niklas Svedberg's turn.
"He’s getting a full game [Thursday]," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the team's skate at TD Garden on Wednesday, before making the trip north of the border.
"And that means that we still have to look at him closely and decide which one of the two we’re going to start with."
The other goalie in question, of course, is Chad Johnson. The netminder made a case for himself in the 2-0 shutout of Detroit, stopping all 18 shots he faced, though he received ample help from his skaters in front of him (nothing new for the B's solid defensive system) and one game isn't necessarily the deciding factor for Julien and the B's brass on who will remain with the club as the backup to start 2013-14.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice at TD Garden on Wednesday morning before heading north of the border to face the Jets on Thursday (September 26) in Winnipeg and on Friday (September 27) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Besides Sunday's split-squad scrimmage, it marked the first time all B's were on the ice together during training camp.
"Absolutely it's a lot different, pretty much the whole camp we've playing with half the team so it's good to see everyone out there, be able to play with new guys and nice to have a couple more bodies on the ice, get a little more rest in because it's been a tough camp so far," said Reilly Smith following the roughly hour-long skate.
And having the group altogether for the first time, means more team time on the road.
"It’s fun, I’m excited to get on the plane with the guys and hangout all together and it’s always good bonding time when we’re out on the road, especially with this group of guys," smiled defenseman Torey Krug. "It’s such a brotherly atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun."
With only two more preseason games before final decisions have to be made for the 23-man opening night roster, players like Krug are eyeing one of those spots.
BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins' home opener on October 3 comes around, Head Coach Claude Julien will have submitted his 23-player opening night roster to the league.
And if the trend during training camp continues, the decisions the B's bench boss and management have to make to get down to that magic number won't get any easier.
"I think it’ll come right down until the end to make those last few calls," Julien told reporters recently. "Because what we’ve got right now, we’ve got a lot of discussions on certain players."
Those discussions are likely revolving around the competition among those looking to crack the third line, or earn a spot on the blueline, with a slew of newcomers and young player impressing throughout camp.
"There’s quite a few guys in the mix. That’s some of the stuff I alluded to [this week] by saying we’re going to have some tough decisions to make at the end," Julien said following the B's 3-2 overtime win over the Washington Capitals on September 23 at TD Garden.
BOSTON, MA - Those in attendance at TD Garden got a fight night on Monday in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime preseason win over the Washington Capitals, with five bouts of dropping the gloves fueled by skaters trying to make their clubs' opening night rosters.
Included in that mix was an extended hammering, featuring the bruiser himself, Milan Lucic.
BostonBruins.com - You can watch Ryan Spooner during practice or in a game. No matter the situation, you'll always notice his speed and slick hands.
When I sat above the TD Garden ice on Monday morning, watching him quarterback a power-play unit from the half wall, the way he weaved in and out of the right faceoff circle, stickhandling, with his head up, quickly registering all of his options, as his other four teammates moved their feet down low, up top, in front of the net, I saw a hint of David Krejci.
Spooner, after all, was the forward recalled from Providence during the 2012-13 season - in his first year pro - on an emergency basis, when Krejci was deemed day-to-day. He suited up on March 19, in Krejci's spot alongside Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, and impressed Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien enough that he played two nights later, with Rich Peverley as a healthy scratch.