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  • The 10-day countdown

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    The 10-day countdown

    Bob Snow September 26, 2017

    Five down; two to go.

    The 2017-18 Boston Bruins roster is in the stretch drive to their opening lineup. Two preseason games to go after Monday night’s last home affair against the Chicago Blackhawks, a 4-2 win that pushes the preseason slate to 4-1. The last two come Thursday at Philadelphia, Saturday back to the Windy City.

    On Sunday, B’s GM Don Sweeney assigned Anton Blidh, Colby Cave, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, Zane McIntyre, Zach Senyshyn and Jakub Zboril to the AHL Providence Bruins. Sweeney also announced that Chris Breen, Connor Clifton, Taylor Doherty, Colton Hargrove and Chris Porter will join P-Bruins training camp.

    “I think once you’re this far, you always want to get going,” Bruce Cassidy said after the last game at TD Garden for 10 days. “A, because you don’t want to have any injuries. But then once the games start, you realize, hey we need to work on some things.”

    The regular season opener is October 5 against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Twenty-three names on the final list coming next week.

    Barring injuries, lock in Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in goal. Up front Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey. On defense Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller. Krug is on injured reserve but will likely be activated within several days after the opener.

    Odds-on favorites to round out the remaining forwards: Frank Vatrano, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen. Any injury puts Austin Czarnik in that mix. On defense Paul Postma and Rob O’Gara – until Krug’s return.

    The youth movement is on the move with McAvoy, Bjork and Heinen ready for prime time. Not quite ready are likely Jeremy Lauzon, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jake DeBrusk.

    Twenty starters each game: two goaltenders, usually 12 forwards and six defensemen with two or three healthy scratches. Sixteen of the aforementioned players were in Monday night’s lineup.

    Your projected four lines? How about Bergeron, Marchand and Bjork; Krejci, Pastrnak and Vatrano or Heinen; Spooner, Backes and Beleskey; Acciari, Schaller and Nash.

    Beleskey is on a short leash with two lackluster years and a five-year, $20 million deal with three years to go.

    “He’s come in in better shape,” Cassidy said about Beleskey. “Lighter. So he’s taken that to heart. You certainly need some corner weight, for certain guys who play that way. He’s one of those guys that has some grit, tenacity to his game. There would be a certain level of compromise there. It’s just there’s a lot of competition this year, some of these young kids that can skate, the way the game is going, they are really pushing.”

    Time to get on with the real show?

    “There’s always fixes,” Cassidy said. “But we are getting closer.”

    “Every time you get a few more games, you feel better,” Bergeron, now into his 13th preseason, said. “As a team also it felt like there were less breakdowns tonight. We still have to tighten up on a few things. The good thing is we have a week left and hopefully we can work on the little things to make sure we’re good for the start of the year.”

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