The China trip is over and the Bruins who were fortunate enough to head overseas have returned to their homes to get some well-needed rest. That won’t last long, however, as they return to Warrior Ice Arena on Saturday and reunite with their domestic teammates.
With a mere 12 days until opening night, here are a few observations from your’s truly following the first week of preseason hockey.
– Sure there were some hiccups during the Bruins’ trip to China be it on or off the ice. But there’s no denying that the two games against the Flames were a success regardless of the two wins. For every equipment hold up at customs or the visa issue that caused David Krejci to stay home, there was the trip to the Great Wall of China and bonding experiences. Not bad for the Bruins players who were overseas for the last week.
– Jake DeBrusk has had quite the experience in just two years. His recent moment came with a two-goal effort in Bejing. DeBrusk missed most of the second period against the Flames due to the “runs” but came back in time to score the game-winner in the third. Sure, his Game 7 outburst against the Maple Leafs is a little more noteworthy, but hey at least he’ll have another story to share years from now, albeit humorous.
– Things have been just as good back home. Both Jakub Lauko and Axel Andersson are taking advantage of early opportunities with the former scoring twice in two preseason games against the Capitals and the latter getting a big-time experience being paired with Zdeno Chara during his first camp. The two were selected by the Bruins in the NHL Draft — in Rounds 2 and 3 — this past June. Don Sweeney’s focus on drafting and developing talent has paid off during his first three-plus seasons. But selecting Lauko and Andersson in a year where they didn’t have a first-round pick — as a result of the Rick Nash trade — could be his most savvy selections if the duo develops.
– Torey Krug and Noel Acciari both skated with their domestic teammates for the first time earlier this week and appear closer to making their preseason debuts. Both Krug and Acciari were on the ice throughout Thursday’s practice, with the latter making a good, physical impression in his first day of contact. Neither have a timetable to return yet, but there’s a good chance that Krug and Acciari, at the very least, will be ready to go for opening night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals in nearly two weeks.
– Will Patrice Bergeron be joining the team come opening night? On Friday, a few months removed from off-season surgery to repair a torn groin, the four-time Selke winner, took a few twirls around the Brighton training facility prior to practice. Bergeron, who is also dealing with back spasms, missed the last two season openers because of injuries sustained just days before Game No. 1 but returned to the ice a week or two later in both instances. Though the Bruins are clearly better off with Bergeron in the lineup, they also fared decently in the first go-around going 2-1 to start 2016-17. They weren’t as fortunate the second time around with a 2-3 mark that included a sweep by Nathan McKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche (a sneaky preseason pick for the Cup if you ask me).
– A good start will be key for the Bruins in 2018-19, and they could do just that. Only two playoff teams appear on Boston’s October slate — opening night against the Caps and a home matchup with the Flyers on Oct. 25. A four-game Canadian swing — three coming in Western Canada — a showdown with a revamped Sabres squad, two matchups with the Erik Karlsson-less Senators, a game in Carolina against Dougie Hamilton and company and the first meeting with the Canadiens highlight the rest of the October schedule.