Top 3 Takeaways from the Boston Bruins' 1st Informal Practices of 2014
Besides the award-winning first and last lines of defense, eight other participants saw action in a least one NHL game last season. As Caryn Switaj listed on the team’s website, the other four included Providence veterans Tommy Cross and Bobby Robins, plus rising professional rookies Brian Ferlin and David Pastrnak.
Wednesday witnessed a snowballing influx of the who’s who in the organization. A more recent post by Switaj highlighted the arrival of captain Zdeno Chara and first-line winger Milan Lucic.
With two-plus weeks still to come before the first official training camp session on Sept. 18, the 2014 offseason is shedding its “off” tag. Substantive storylines for the 2014-15 preseason and subsequent regular season are taking shape for all to see.
The Bruins’ three most notable items surfacing in the wee days of September are as follows.
Bergeron’s Archetypal Ardor
Can Bergeron put in any more than he already does? His actions and words on Tuesday say he thinks so.
The alternate captain and two-way connoisseur was the de facto leader of the first informal skate. The way he assumed the role of Reggie Dunlop for a day comes as little surprise.
Per the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the 29-year-old said of an elevated sense of leadership, “I’m ready for that now…I think I’ve evolved over the years. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to mature here in Boston.”
One item that should turn heads comes from another write-up by Shinzawa, who noted that Bergeron had been “a late arrival in previous seasons.”
The fact that only six other returning regulars participated in Tuesday’s twirl means no missing personnel should count as conspicuous by their absence. Yet Bergeron implicitly found a hole in his repertoire and felt an itch to address it by percolating the in-season vibe sooner than before.
In another testament to Bergeron’s unremitting drive for improvement, CBS Boston’s Matt Kalman quoted him on his craving for quality on offense:
I took some shooting lessons and I’m trying to work on my shot. I don’t know if I’ll be in the same position on the power play, but I tried to work on my one-timer…I think D’s, and even forwards from other teams, are so fast and so quick on back pressure and all that stuff that you have to get your shot off quicker.
That statement lends more illumination to the head-and-heart aspect of Bergeron’s approach. He understands that all individuals and teams need to keep moving and evolving in accordance with the game.
The presence of those intangibles along with his resume sets a proper tone of determination two weeks in advance of formal training camp.
Developing the Defensive Picture
Of the three Boston blueliners on hand for Tuesday’s icebreaker, two met premature ends to last season. The other, David Warsofsky, garnered his first slivers of NHL action, in part, because of those injuries.
Joe Haggerty of csnne.com declared it “a good sign in the health department” with Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg’s participation. Ditto seasoned depth forward Chris Kelly, who like his defensive counterparts “looked fit and strong” in Haggerty’s eyes.
Granted, one session is never a tell-all, but the timing of this development could not be more favorable for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Between a snug salary cap and overstocks on defense and at center, he could stand to make at least one trade.
Should the Bruins choose that path, Kelly, McQuaid and Warsofsky would all make logical castoffs.
Kelly’s contract, which still has two seasons left, consumes $3 million in cap space. Furthermore, with the emergence of Carl Soderberg and the rise of promising prospects, he may have permanently lost his natural assignment in the middle.
Speaking of Krug, he and top-six winger Reilly Smith still need new contracts. Any opportunity to sign re-sign them sooner rather than later would be a welcome one.
If the outlook on Kelly and McQuaid holds up for the coming weeks, Chiarelli may have a chance to create the requisite cap space. The more they skate and the longer they look stable doing so, the likelier Boston would be to find a taker.
Pastrnak Plugging Away
By this Friday, David Pastrnak will have been a Bruins prospect for exactly 10 weeks.
That is how long (or short) it has been since the club made him its latest first-round draft pick. Yet the events in between have virtually elongated the time frame between his selection and his first on-ice interaction with established NHLers.
In July, Pastrnak hit the ice sprinting at Boston’s development camp and inked his entry-level deal shortly thereafter. In August, he continued to generate headlines from within his age group by piloting the Czech Republic through early World Junior tuneups.
His candidacy for a Bruins roster spot in 2014-15 remains debatable, at best. But reports from Ristuccia reiterate that he will not fall short for lack of willpower.
As quoted by ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Bergeron said the following of the promising aspirant:
I saw him a few times. He’s very fast, skilled. He battles hard. I know it’s early, but he seems to be really hard on the puck and wants it…It’s nice to have all the young guys we have right now pushing for a spot…It’s not my decision, for sure, but he seems to be a great player and we’ll see in the next few weeks.
Up to two weeks’ worth of informal drilling plus rookie camp should ease Pastrnak’s all-around acclimation ahead of Sept. 18. Even if he does not complete the lofty leap to the opening-night roster, he will have plenty to build on in Europe.
Assuming he maintains his pace, his worst-case scenario could entail holding out hope for a Soderberg-esque arrival next spring.