The Boston Bruins hardly trotted out any of their notable veterans over the first two preseason games. Their roster for Tuesday’s exhibition against the New York Rangers, in particular, showcased a potential fourth line earning top-line minutes, the Boston debuts of Linus Ullmark and Tomas Nosek and a handful of players bound for Providence.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy saw some encouraging signs from Jack Studnicka and 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell. He also saw Kyle Keyser make timely saves on a 5-on-3 situation in the third period following a string of lazy penalties from Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh and Zach Senyshyn.
As far as the result, the Bruins bounced back from a 2-0 second period deficit only to watch perennial Hart Trophy candidate Artemi Panarin give the Rangers the lead for good late in the middle stanza. Here’s what we learned following Boston’s 3-2 loss in Madison Square Garden.
Studnicka showcases increased strength in his preseason debut
Instead of heading home during the off-season, Studnicka opted to stay in Boston and train. He entered training camp with an upgraded physique, gaining 15 lbs. of muscle.
With Charlie Coyle healing from knee surgery, Studnicka spent the first few days of camp centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith hoping to secure the second line void left by David Krejci’s departure. With Hall and Smith staying home Tuesday night, Studnicka remained in a de facto top-six role with a pair of Swedish wingers in Lysell and Jesper Froden.
Studnicka admitted to having “more explosiveness” following the weight gain. Well, he showcased that quickness and increased strength in his first preseason tilt. The former OHL standout didn’t shy away from creating scoring chances, nor did he hesitate to fight through checks in puck pursuit. He showcased those traits on his second-period marker following a beautiful feed from Lysell to cut the Rangers’ lead to 2-1.
“I think I was able to throw my body around more,” Studnicka said of his first game following his intense off-season training. “When I was going through guys’ hands, like on the backcheck and such, I felt like I was getting my position good. It’s going to be a work in progress, but it’s a little different game that I’m able to play now.”
As Studnicka attempts to benefit from his weight gain, one of his linemates for the night provided another glimpse of Boston’s future.
Lysell delivers a good second impression
Barring any unusual developments, Lysell will officially begin his North American hockey career in Vancouver of the WHL following training camp.
As usual with any younger player, the Bruins will need Lysell to bulk up to acclimate himself in the professional ranks in the long run. But Lysell’s initial two-game run with the big club hasn’t been too shabby.
“As comfortable as it was expected to be, I think,” Lysell said of his adjustment to North American hockey. “I’m just trying to compete at all times and try to keep up with the pace.”
The 5-foot-10 Lysell hardly looked out of place in his preseason debut against the Capitals on Sunday. He barely hesitated to engage in puck battles against fully-grown veterans. That trend continued two days later, highlighted by his assist on Studnicka’s lamplighter.
Boston’s prospect system dried up a bit over the last few seasons. Lysell’s first taste of NHL action — albeit in a pair of glorified scrimmages — provides a needed shot in the arm among the future Bruins ranks.
The fourth line struggled in their first game together
The Islanders exposed Boston’s thin bottom-six depth in the latter half of their second-round matchup last postseason. Don Sweeney attempted to address the third and fourth line holes after signing Nosek, Erik Haula and Nick Foligno on the first day of free agency.
Nosek donned the Spoked B for the first time against the Rangers. Cassidy slotted the former Vegas forward on a de facto top line with Frederic and Curtis Lazar.
Nosek led all skaters with seven shots on net. But at times, the fourth line struggled to possess the puck in the attacking end, thus leading to untimely turnovers, as seen with Panarin’s go-ahead breakaway tally.
“They can be better, that’s for sure,” Cassidy said. “Those guys [Nosek and Lazar] have been in the league a little more. I felt Freddy [Frederic] didn’t move his feet nearly well enough to be effective…For a line that’s going to be an O-zone, puck possession line, there’s some work to do there for them. They lost the puck in the second period there that led to Panarin’s goal. I think they had their moments where they did attack, but they’re going to have to work off of each other better.”
Nosek, Lazar and Frederic played in their first game together. The good news for them — and for a guy on the outside looking in of a fourth-line spot in Chris Wagner? They have time to gain some chemistry with one another during the latter half of training camp.
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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