Bruins Weekly: Opening Week, Kuhlman & More

With a new NHL season upon us, it’s also the return of Boston Bruins Weekly at The Hockey Writers for the 2021-22 season. With a majority of the other 31 teams in the league getting ready for their first game before the upcoming weekend, the Black and Gold have to wait until Saturday night to drop the puck on a new season. We will take a look at which new Bruins will play their first game with the team, where Karson Kuhlman fits on the roster, and how the coaching staff is handling the long layoff from the final preseason game to the season opener.

New Players to Play First Game as a Bruin

Over the offseason, Boston general manager Don Sweeney had one of his most active free agencies during his tenure as GM. He signed several free agents to help address team needs and also keeping the Black and Gold as Stanley Cup contenders. After six preseason games, and a long layoff, the new Bruins finally get their first regular-season action wearing the Spoked-B.

Related: Boston Bruins 2021-22 Season Preview Section

When the Bruins entertain the Dallas Stars in Saturday night’s opener at the TD Garden, it marks the first game in Boston for veteran forwards Erik Haula, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek. Defensemen Derek Forbort gets to play his first game as a Bruin on defense and goaltender Linus Ullmark will dress with rookie Jeremy Swayman as the two goalies.

Linus Ullmark Buffalo Sabres
New Bruins’ goalie Linus Ullmark with the Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Foligno and Haula looked good in the preseason with Jake DeBrusk on the third line. Nosek centered the fourth line when coach Bruce Cassidy had his full lineup for the three home preseason games. Of the three players, Nosek has the most work cut out for him entering the season. He will find himself on the bottom line with what will most likely be a rotating door on a nightly basis. 

Forbort is a left-shot blueliner that the Bruins have been looking for that can play any pairing and log over 20 minutes a night, while also playing in all situations. He was paired with Charlie McAvoy in the preseason and he should a lot of the time on the Bruins penalty kill.

Ullmark and Swayman will share the duties in the first month of the season according to Cassidy. Swayman had the better preseason, but Ullmark, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract this summer, played well for a struggling Buffalo Sabres team early in his career and could be a good signing once he gets his feet under him in Boston.

Overall, it should be considered a successful offseason in terms of free agency and now the Bruins will get a chance to see their signings in regular-season action.

Kuhlman Fourth Line Right Wing?

Boston knows what they have with their top-nine forwards and the only question remaining is who will join Nosek and Trent Frederic on the fourth line? If practice this week is any indication, it’s going to be Karson Kuhlman.

Karson Kuhlman, Boston Bruins
Karson Kuhlman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kuhlman was on the right side of the fourth line with Frederic and Nosek. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth standout has 56 NHL games played with six goals and 13 points. The Bruins are not looking for much production from Kuhlman, as they will take energy shifts and get some penalty killing time from him.

Long Layoff For Bruins and Coaching Staff

The NHL officially began the season with two games Tuesday night. For the Bruins, they have to wait four more nights to begin their season in a year that despite returning to a normal 82-game season, still has a quirky schedule. Cassidy and his staff have been trying to get through the 10-day break between the final preseason game and the opener.

“You’ll be better off for it eventually when you’ve had this rest. But now practices, like today was a little tougher to get going. Guys are getting tired of practicing. They know the season is starting this week and they want to get going. We’ve got to keep them focused in that regard.”

Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy

After playing the Stars, Boston will be off until Oct. 20 at Philadelphia against the new-look Flyers. While most of the teams get going with multiple games this week, the Black and Gold have just one. There will be an Olympic Break in February that will last 23 days for the Bruins, which will extend the regular season until April 29. Speaking of April, that will be the busiest month for the Bruins, who will play 15 games in a 28-day span. You would think that Cassidy and his team would like some of those games spread over the early part of the season, as at the end of that April stretch, the league will go right into the playoffs.

The Week Ahead

  • Saturday: vs. Dallas Stars, 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday: at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m.

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