VERMONT - These Bruins know each other well.
Still, while players who were once "new faces" in August are new no longer, there can never be enough time spent together for this group.
So, here we are, in Vermont, as the veterans and rookies alike take a couple of days away from Boston to get to know one another before the 2013-14 regular season kicks off on Thursday at TD Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
We've seen chemistry starting to form on the ice, with Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla; with Loui Eriksson joining new linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand; with the new-look third line having the addition of Reilly Smith.
"I think we have a pretty good idea of what we're getting," Head Coach Claude Julien had said, at the start of training camp in mid-September.
BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins hit the ice on Sunday morning at TD Garden, they were down to their 23-man roster.
Nick Johnson was placed on waivers by the club for purpose of assignment to Providence, leaving 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders currently with the club.
Reilly Smith looks poised for the third line role alongside Chris Kelly and a healthy Carl Soderberg (he's currently day to day after sustaining an injury during the game in Saskatoon when he hit a rut in the ice).
BostonBruins.com - On Sunday morning, there were only two Bruins missing from the ice, after Nick Johnson was placed on waivers by the club for purpose of assignment to Providence.
BostonBruins.com - On Friday night in Saskatoon, the Bruins capped off their preseason with a 5-0 shutout of the Winnipeg Jets and a 6-1 record.
With the final tune-up, it also brought the inevitable: roster cuts.
Chiarelli talked with the players on the plane heading back to Boston. All will join the Providence Bruins training camp currently underway.
The "Opening Night Roster" needs to be submitted to the league on October 1, and Chiarelli told a small gathering of reporters in Saskatoon on Friday night that Boston will probably carry 23 players (the league limit), consisting of 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders.
SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN - With a 5-0 shutout of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at Credit Union Centre, the Bruins head into the regular season with a clean slate, but with the confidence of a 6-1 record.
While there isn't too much stock put in preseason games, the record is at least a confidence boost heading into the regular season, which kicks off for the B's on October 3 at TD Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"But it's nice. Our team has obviously responded in these preseason games; I think, overall, we've played decent," said Head Coach Claude Julien following the win.
Carl Soderberg opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the first period to begin a fairly dominant night for the Bruins, banging in a rebound from Reilly Smith's shot off the crossbar. It marked Soderberg's third goal of the preseason.
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.