Another sign in which the 2017-18 regular season is that much closer.
In a matter of hours, a select group of Bruins will make the trip up north to faceoff in their annual preseason matchup with the Canadiens at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. It will also mark the first time that former head coach Claude Julien will get to see his former team since taking over behind the Habs bench in February – exactly one week after his dismissal in Boston.
The Julien storyline will have a bigger spotlight come mid-January when the Bruins and Habs meet three times in seven days. Monday’s story is all about the youngsters trying to make a good first impression for Bruce Cassidy, Don Sweeney and the rest of the B’s brass.
“It’s not bad to go out there and find out [what players have],” Cassidy said about starting the preseason three days after their first on-ice training camp session. “Not every player will get five, six or seven [preseason] games, so they got to get after it and that’s part of the opportunity.”
Even a good impression in a preseason game against the rival Habs can go a long way.
Anders Bjork and Jesse Gabrielle are two of the many prospects that will be playing in the preseason debut. Both have high hopes of making the Bruins’ roster out of camp with Bjork – fresh off his stellar junior season at Notre Dame – the more likely candidate of the two to grab a spot. Bjork has skated with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand – both not making the trip up north – while Gabrielle’s likely destination is a third or fourth line role shall he make the opening night roster.
Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban will share goaltending duties against the Habs. Both are hoping to steal the backup spot from Anton Khudobin, who had a strong finish to the 2016-17 campaign winning six of his last seven starts.
A few notable veterans will don the Black and Gold for the first time this preseason, including Riley Nash, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and Kevan Miller. One notable that won’t be, despite a little lobbying, is Quebec City’s own Patrice Bergeron.
“We definitely had a talk,” said Bergeron, who underwent off-season surgery to repair a sports hernia back in May, “but it’s one of those things that’s unfortunate, but I think the extra time is going to be beneficial.”
Unlike the Bruins, the Habs will make their short trip up north with a few veterans. Brendan Gallagher, Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, Al Montoya, Karl Alzner and former Bruin Joe Morrow are a few notables on Julien’s roster.
It might not have as much hype as a regular season or playoff contest, but a preseason Bruins-Habs game still brings a good amount of anticipation, especially for the energetic Gabrielle.
“I know there’s a lot of history between the two teams, and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play in this game,” Gabrielle said. “The way that I play, you know, it’s going to be a rough game and I’m excited to go out there and play with some pace and hit some Canadiens.”