Wrapping up their preseason slate with an overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins will look to turn things around when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the TD Garden this weekend for opening night. Ending with a record of 2-1-3 in preseason, the team will look to improve on that mark throughout the upcoming regular season. As the group worked to recover from the loss of David Krejci to the Czech league and Tuukka Rask to hip surgery this offseason, the front office managed to bring in various players that look to be key contributors this year.
Throughout the preseason campaign, multiple prospects were given opportunities to showcase their talents, with none shining brighter than Jack Studnicka. Currently in his third NHL season, the forward led the Bruins in scoring during the preseason, including a goal and an assist in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers late last month. Studnicka was still sent to Providence before the start of the campaign, but the hope around the franchise is that the young center is able to take the leap to the next level and “never look back,” a hope for head coach Bruce Cassidy.
As for NHL-ready talent, former Nashville Predator and Vegas Golden Knight Erik Haula made an instant impact, scoring in the second period of the Bruins preseason opener against the Capitals. Haula paired up with Jake DeBrusk and Jesper Froden as their line contributed to all three of the important scores of the night, including DeBrusk potting home the game-winning tally in the shootout. Haula, a 30 year-old winger, managed to dish out three assists to go along with a goal in the preseason, a welcome sight for a team that had just lost their second best playmaker in the offseason.
Another former Golden Knight, Thomas Nosek, also found his way to Boston after signing a two-year, $3.5 million dollar deal to play in Boston this season. The skilled forward has been consistently improving as he gets older, and at the age of 29, the Bruins are in perfect position to utilize Nosek in his prime.
University of Maine product Jeremy Swayman made sure to have his presence felt, starting three games in the early campaign, earning wins in two of the three en route to solidifying his spot as the starting goalie. His back-up for the time being looks to be newly acquired Swedish goaltender Linus Ullmark, who also managed to start in three of the team’s preseason games. While Ullmark failed to win a game, and had a fairly worrisome error to start off his preseason, his play has only seemed to improve as the beginning of the year inches closer.
Following a trade last season that sent Anders Bjork to Buffalo in exchange for Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar, Hall has been nothing but stellar on the second line. His play was enough to warrant a four-year contract extension with an AAV of $6 million. In the preseason alone, Hall was able to find the back of the net once and add on two assists in his three games of action, a welcome sight for a player that looks to be a key part of Bruce Cassidy’s offense going forward.
“The Perfection Line,” as they’ve come to be known, continued to stay hot, with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron combining to score five goals and hand out four assists over the six preseason matchups, only three of which the group actually saw ice time in. Bergeron will be entering his first full-length season as captain of the Bruins, as the previous year was shortened to 56 games as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brandon Carlo was able to score a rare goal in the team’s win against the Flyers this preseason, but it’s his defensive ability has taken center stage. The 24 year-old defenseman has done nothing but elevate his game. The star of the defense is Boston University product Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy recently inked an eight year contract that sees him making $9.5 a year.
While the preseason may not have been a perfect showing for the Bruins, the pieces are certainly in place to make yet another run at the Stanley Cup this year.