BRIGHTON — It’s the first workday of October; a good month to be a Boston sports aficionado.
The Red Sox prepping for their second season with the ALDS Thursday and Friday in Cleveland.
The Patriots set to begin their “second” season with the official end of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension; Game 5 of their season coincidentally in Cleveland Sunday.
And the Boston Bruins begin their stretch run of training camp en route to the season opener just 10 days hence at Columbus.
“It was nice to get the first practice behind me,” Patrice Bergeron said after his World Cup heroics last week. “Try to keep the ball rolling with the new guys. Otherwise, good to be back with the guys and wear the Spoked-B again.”
After two pre-season stinkers last week in losses to Columbus and Detroit, the Bruins’ disjointed roster established some into the weekend with a pair of one-goal wins over the Wings and Flyers.
Next up is Montreal in Quebec City Tuesday night.
“For those [World Cup] guys, leaning more toward yes than no,” Claude Julien said Monday morning about getting his star players back Tuesday.
In addition to Team USA’s David Backes and Czech Republic’s David Pastrnak, Monday morning’s practice session 1 at Warrior Arena featured the first on-ice appearance of Team Europe’s Zdeno Chara — and Team Canada heroes Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Down 1-0 off Europe’s only goal by the Bruins’ captain in Game 2 of the World Cup best of three, Bergeron tallied the equalizer on the man advantage with two-plus minutes remaining off a nifty tip-in of a Brent Burns blast from the point.
Shorthanded in the waning seconds, a streaking Marchand took a Jonathan Toews feed in the slot and wristed a laser past Jaroslav Halak with 43 ticks left to keep the other Cup in possession of Canada.
“I’m proud to be part of this organization for a long time,” Marchand said on the heels of his memorable week and first day with his teammates. Tuesday he signed an 8-year, 49-million deal; Thursday the game winner. “Try to keep the speed up and the work ethic. It’s tough to play like that for 82 games. Just push yourself to work that hard.”
Add David Krejci and Torey Krug, who have been on the ice throughout training camp, and it all add up to a Bruins’ roster taking shape for the very first time in the early going.
“We’re tracking toward opening night for both,” Julien said about two more key cogs on his roster set for first-night duty after April surgery for both.
Sunday, GM Don Sweeney made a significant number of roster moves to pare the roster down to a manageable 30-plus. Twenty-three is the magic number for the first official faceoff next week – likely 13 forwards and eight defensemen along with two goaltenders.
Eyes this week will be on two major factors. Which forwards will crack the October 13 staring lineup? And which defensemen will make the jump into what is the Bruins’ biggest concern again in 2016-17.
“We’re looking for the best fits for needed roles,” Julien said.
Intact up front are Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, Pastrnak, Krejci, Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Dominic Moore and Ryan Spooner.
Best additional bets, along with Riley Nash, Brian Ferlin, Seth Griffith and Tyler Randell, are Austin Czarnik who put up 61 points at Providence last season in 68 games, University of Denver star Danton Heinen with two stellar seasons at the NCAA level (48 points in 41 games last year), and Zach Senyshyn with 65 points in 66 games in the Quebec major junior league last year.
On defense, the latter starts with another question. Can Don Sweeney and Claude Julien squeeze one more year out of long-time standout defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The 34-year-old Ehrhoff is in town for a professional tryout after some good timing in his career.
“He‘s a great player; he played really well in the [World Cup],” Slovakia native Chara said about his German-born defense partner for Team Europe, who was a Top-2 NHL blueliner for most of his career.
His last stop was in LA with the Kings.
“I think in LA the fit was not there,” Ehrhoff said after his first practice in a Boston uniform “It went downhill from there and I lost my confidence. I’ve played in the league a long time. But obviously, I didn’t have a good year last year.”
Why a hopeful rebound here?
“I thought I played a good World Cup. Playing with a lot of confidence again. For me it’s not a big deal to show what I can do. I want to take that momentum here.”
“He had a good [World Cup] and always skates the puck well,” Julien concurred. “The way he competed in the World Cup is what got out attention for a closer look.”
Other considerations are Joe Morrow and former Yale star Rob O’Gara. The current complement of Chara, Krug John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Colin Miller appear set for opening night.
Barring injury, Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin are locks in net.
“We gotta catch some momentum no matter what’s going on,” Julien said about his hockey team. “Our guys have done a good job of getting our guys ready while I was away (assistant coach at WC Tournament). I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’re hoping we’re not under the radar and that people will take notice of our hockey club.”
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