The Boston Bruins are 3-0-0 so far this preseason and there are already a number of positive takeaways. A team made up of mostly rookies did battle with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Philadelphia Flyers coming out on top all three nights. They scored a total of nine goals while only giving up five. Seven of those nine goals were scored by rookies.
Two of Boston’s goals against were given up by goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban less than two minutes apart. Another two by backup goaltender Anton Khudobin who collected a win against Petr Mrazek of the Red Wings. Tuukka Rask gave up just one goal against the Flyers while 25-year-old Zane McIntyre saved 11 Montreal shots, relieving Subban in the second period of Boston’s first preseason game.
Despite the hiccup at the beginning of the second period of their game against the Canadiens, Boston seemed confident and in control for the majority of their preseason thus far. In fact, they outshot their opponents 91-77 through the first three games. They played with emotion, engaging in skirmishes after a number of whistles. Sean Kuraly even dropped the gloves for a brief tangle with Detroit’s Luke Glendening.
One major blow came in the form of a wild puck in the second period of Tuesday’s preseason game against the Red Wings. Krug took the puck to the face, causing a non-displaced fracture which will keep him out for the next three weeks. That means he will likely miss Boston’s first three regular-season games in addition to the remainder of the preseason.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson also suffered an injury in Tuesday’s preseason game. He fell victim to an awkward fall into the end boards. The loud smack from the collision gave way to grunts of sympathy from the crowd as Forsbacka Karlsson got to his feet and gingerly skated back to the bench. He did not return and is considered day-to-day.
Matt Beleskey reportedly suffered a foot contusion during Monday’s preseason game against the Canadiens. He is also considered day-to-day. Both Beleskey and Forsbacka Karlsson should be healthy by the start of the regular season, but the injuries could hurt their chances as the competition for roster spots heats up.
Krug’s injury is obviously the most concerning of the three, especially seeing as though he missed the entirety of Boston’s short playoff run in April. The competition for spots on the front end has been heating up since rookie camp. Now fans will watch as Boston’s rookie defensemen do battle in an effort to make the lineup for their October 5 opener.
Rob O’Gara & Jakub Zboril
Rob O’Gara and Jakub Zboril appeared in Boston’s preseason matchup against Detroit. Both rookie defensemen registered an assist while Zboril managed a rating of plus-two on the night.
O’Gara, who soaked up a whopping 24:44 against the Red Wings, saw three regular-season games at the NHL level last season. He saw 59 games in Providence netting four goals and nine assists last year.
The Yale alumnus played in 133 games with the Bulldogs, scoring 14 goals and assisting 37 others. He accumulated 175 penalty minutes during that span.
Designated the number 44 that Stanley Cup champion Dennis Seidenberg wore for seven years in Boston, O’Gara looked a lot like his predecessor in Tuesday’s preseason game. The 23-year-old moves the puck quickly along the blue line and always seems to be in position defensively. Even when he made mistakes against Detroit, O’Gara displayed poise when recovering possession and ushering the puck up ice.
Jakub Zboril has appeared in 144 games with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. During that time, the 20-year-old accumulated 28 goals and 66 assists. His assist on Ryan Fitzgerald’s goal against Detroit showcased his ability to contribute offensively.
His assist on Ryan Fitzgerald’s goal against Detroit showcased his ability to contribute offensively. The Czech-native was given 19:12 of ice time against Detroit.
Zboril is expected to start the season in Providence despite Krug’s injury. O’Gara, on the other hand, is in a position to make a push. His play on Tuesday didn’t disappoint, and he’ll likely get another chance to impress when Boston takes on the Red Wings once more on Saturday.
Matt Grzelcyk & Jeremy Lauzon
Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon have appeared in two games so far this preseason. Lauzon received 21:44 of ice time while his comrade was given 18:42 in Thursday night’s win over the Flyers.
Grzelcyk appeared in two NHL games last season but spent 70 games producing six goals and 26 assists in Providence. He proved his offensive skills on Thursday, captaining Boston’s power-play unit where is confidence and shot were both on display. Grzelcyk was not afraid to step up both in the offensive zone to create odd-man rushes as well as defensively to take out his man. He even crashed the net to create a prime scoring chance late in the game.
Lauzon played in 200 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, accumulating 35 goals and 130 assists. He looked shaky Thursday night in front of the net. There was an instance where he had two opportunities to clear the puck from his own crease but failed to do so. The 20-year-old also carelessly iced the puck in the second period.
On the positive side, Lauzon was willing to take hits in order to move the puck along the boards and seemed confident when he had open ice to work with. While Boston’s second-round pick of 2015 will find himself on an NHL roster someday, he will likely spend the 2017-18 season in Providence.
Grzelcyk, however, is bidding for a spot on the Bruins roster to start the season. He and O’Gara will continue to fight for their coach’s attention. Though Krug is only expected to miss three regular season games, both Grzelcyk and O’Gara could prove that they can be relied upon if another Bruins defender falls to injury. It could very well be either player’s first step in breaking into the NHL.
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.