First Cuts Made; Observations from First Two Preseason Games

Wednesday, 09.18.2013 / 5:41 PM
Caryn Switaj  - BostonBruins.com

BOSTON, MA - The Bruins made their first cuts from training camp on Wednesday, trimming a 51-player group down to 45.

Invites to Boston's camp - Scott Campbell, Jack Downing, Steven Spinell and Ben Youds - are on AHL contracts and will be joining the Providence Bruins training camp which begins Monday, September 23. Winger Tyler Randell and goaltender Adam Morrison, on entry-level level deals with Boston, were assigned to Providence and will also be taking part in the P-Bruins camp.

Of that group, only Downing saw game action, playing on a line with Carter Camper and Jared Knight in Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals in Baltimore. No other

Many teams around the league had been making cuts earlier in camp, but they had also started with larger rosters than the B's. Still, it was beneficial for General Manager Peter Chiarelli to see two preseason games before he even started making cuts.

"The first couple games allowed us to see some of those players that maybe we wouldn’t have if we had games starting a little later on or if they were more spaced. So it’s a bit of a development piece too, to have those players get into games," Chiarelli said, a few hours prior to those first six cuts being announced. "And there may be a couple guys that won’t get in to games that we’ll end up having to cut and it would have been nice to get them into games."

"So these games, the early games, they're evaluation, but also there’s a bit of a development piece to them."

The experience served as NHL preseason debuts for a number of younger camp attendees like Anthony Camara and Malcolm Subban, and allowed players vying for spots on the big club to showcase their work ethic and battle level.

First Two Preseason Games: GM & Coach Observations

- Conditioning Level: Peter Chiarelli said this year's physical testing prior to camp is the best he's seen since he's been with Boston (2006-07) and that's translated into the first two games, both wins, a 6-3 victory in Montreal, followed by Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout win over the Caps. The B's GM said he's like the team's execution, speed and tempo out of the gate, a result of that high level of conditioning. "I"m happy with where we are right now," he said.

- Standouts: Niklas Svedberg between the pipes, stopping 12 of 13 shots Tuesday night vs Washington, one of them coming on Alexander Ovechkin in close…Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski and their play in Montreal, controlling the play with their offensive minds from the blueline…Reilly Smith's "nifty plays" in Tuesday night's game. "I liked his battled, he's a smart-headed player," said Chiarelli…Carl Soderberg coming into camp in terrific condition, with a quicker first few strides, and taking the puck hard to to the net…

- Third Line: "I hope that we can slot him in there whether it’s center or wing but it’s still to be determined," Chiarelli said of having Carl Soderberg on the third line. It's also still to be determined whether Soderberg would play center or the wing, with Chris Kelly at his center position. Chiarelli has liked what he's seen from Soderberg, though, in terms of the way he can shoot the puck and beat D going wide, "a prototypical winger trait."

- Johnson in the Mix: Chiarelli didn't discount Nick Johnson from the mix for the big club's roster. He garnered attention for his two goals in the preseason win over Montreal. The GM liked the skating part of his game. "The common denominator is hockey IQ, when you hear me talking about all of these guys, that applies to him too."

- Smith, Fraser Still Impressing: After impressing Julien with his gritty play during camp, Smith translated that into game action against the Caps, playing on a line with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron, who both played their hard-nosed game as well. Matt Fraser showed his quick release against Montreal, and Julien likes labeling him a "highly skill player."

- Depth Moving Forward: With the players competing for spots, it's obvious only a couple will make it onto the 23-man roster Boston must submit for their opening night roster. Several players from the B's training camp will not make the final cut, but will be heavily relied upon moving forward, either as injuries arise during the season, or with young talent being added to the roster in coming years.

"I like our depth, because depth for me means that we’re going to have to make some tough decisions there at the end," said Julien, of cuts that will need to be made, especially a slew of players worthy of that third line spot.

"There’s going to be guys that are probably be going to Providence that could easily play here - it’s just that you can only keep 23 on your roster."

As camp continues on and the camp roster dwindles down, Julien, Chiarelli, and the B's brass will be able to gain a clearer picture of how the roster will form. Game action is the best evaluation tool, and luckily for the B's, five more preseason games still await.

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