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  • Year of transition provides opportunities for Bruins

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    Year of transition provides opportunities for Bruins

    Tim Rosenthal September 17, 2015

    After failing to make the playoffs last season along with a rather interesting off-season for first year General Manager Don Sweeney, the questions surrounding the Boston Bruins entering the 2015-16 campaign became front and center on the first day of Training Camp.

    Although some of the questions won’t be answered until we see the Black and Gold in action, there is one thing that this camp is about: opportunity

    With many spots up for grabs, there’s a chance for some of the new additions and prospects to leave their mark. From the battle for the backup goaltender position between Jonas Gustavsson, Malcolm Subban, Jeremy Smith and Zane McIntyre to players looking to earn top-six minutes like Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey to Alex Khoklachev, Joonas Kemppainen and Zac Rinaldo aiming for a spot on the fourth line to Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman looking to fill the last voids on the blue-line, there are plenty of opportunities entering a season of uncertainty on Causeway Street.

    “The message is about opportunity,” Sweeney said following the B’s day of off-ice testing at TD Garden. “The expectations are there for guys to step forward and grab a hold of something. You’re not going to be given anything. I’ve said this time and time again, you’re going to [have a] hard time pushing a veteran out of the National Hockey League.”

    The shift in the locker room from the group of veterans like Milan Lucic, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille to the new additions is pretty refreshing. The familiar faces that are back, though, don’t want a repeat performance from last season.

    Brad Marchand and Torey Krug went on record about the locker room divide in an interview with Joe Haggerty this week. Sweeney, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron were asked about Marchand’s response. Some were open to responding while others were eager to turn the page, and with good reason.

    The veterans left in the locker room like Bergeron, Chara, Rask, David Krejci and Chris Kelly want to right the ship and move on. They are all looking to provide stability in an ever changing locker room, while encouraging the new additions and prospects to take advantage of their opportunities in front of them.

    “We feel we should be very humble about what happened last year. We know we have to go back to step one and just make sure that we work together and focus on the same goals,” Chara said.

    “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of new things for them to get accustomed to as well,” The Bruins captain added about the new additions. “But we want to make sure we help them as much as we can to go through this camp so they can gain as much experience as possible and obviously the rest of it is up to them to do their thing and impress the upper management and coaches to make the team.”

    There’s a learning curve for each of the new additions to get accustomed to the Bruins’ style. The same can be said for Brett Connolly, who, despite being acquired at the trade deadline last season from Tampa Bay, only played in a handful of games after breaking his hand during his first practice with the Black and Gold.

    “Obviously when you’re a new guy — and there are a few new faces here — you want to leave your mark on your team,” said the Lightning’s first round pick in 2010. “I’m going to get more of an opportunity this year — a lot more than I have in the past — and I’m looking to embrace that.”

    Over the next few weeks, we’ll know which new additions and prospects make the most of their opportunity during training camp and earn a spot on the opening night roster. The Bruins roster can change over time, but the players that make it through camp with Claude Julien’s bunch will gave an early indication of how the team will look in the first few games.

    “Healthy competition is always important on any team and we’re no different,” Bergeron said. “Everyone is watching and everyone is pushing for a spot. That’s what you want on a team — to push everyone and make everyone better.”

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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