Many Boston Bruins’ veterans made their preseason debuts Friday night In a more experience-heavy lineup than their previous two contests.
Some of the notable familiar names included Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, and Hampus Lindholm.
“What we expected is kind of what we saw in the first period,” assistant coach Joe Sacco said. “Guys trying to find their timing. Time and space closes quickly out there, a lot quicker than it does in practice.”
Goals from Pastrnak and Danton Heinen led Boston in the third of its six preseason tune-ups. Pastrnak collected two tallies: the first one a snipe on the power play and the second an all-too-easy breakaway tally.
Heinen’s shot from the right circle squeaked through Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen to give Boston its first lead of the night.
After the Flyers evened things up, the Bruins came close multiple times late in regulation. Peterson robbed Heinen off a beautiful 2-on-1 feed from Georgii Merkulov. Peterson came up with another huge save on McAvoy with just seconds remaining.
In his first start since Game 6 of Boston’s first round matchup with Florida, Linus Ullmark came through big in overtime with a penalty-shot save on Owen Tippett. Ullmark got a full workload in during his preseason debut, stopping 32 of 35 shots faced.
The two sides carried play into and through overtime. The Flyers got the upper hand in the shootout to secure the 4-3 win.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins continued their push through the preseason.
Lohrei’s progression continues.
Mason Lohrei played a ton Tuesday night against Buffalo. Pairing with Brandon Carlo, the 22-year-old defenseman logged an eye-opening 29:01 of ice time and recorded an assist in his preseason debut Tuesday.
On Friday, Boston’s top defensive prospect skated alongside McAvoy, and once again took another step forward in his development.
“I thought he made some good plays with the puck,” Sacco said. “He’s a big kid that moves pretty well, especially laterally – he moves well side to side.”
Lohrei had another strong night spearheading breakouts, delivering crisp outlet passes out of the defensive zone throughout his 19:14 of ice time. With a continually improving level of confidence, Lohrei joined the rush quite a bit, showing proficiency at both ends of the ice.
“We’re continuing to work with him on his play away from the puck,” Sacco said. “I thought he’s making a good effort to try to be good in our own zone.”
Once again, the Bruins possess a solid core on the back end, but Lohrei has already displayed confidence and poise early in his professional development, and that will only benefit the Black and Gold moving forward.
The Bruins are adjusting to a Patrice Bergeron-less power play
The Bruins have plenty of adjustments to make this season after Bergeron’s retirement, including their top power-play unit.
Pavel Zacha now occupies Bergeron’s patented bumper position as one of his many new responsibilities as Boston’s new top center. There are plenty of differences between Zacha and Bergeron. One of the biggest ones of focus, though, is the changes brought on by Zacha being a left-handed shot.
“Probably the biggest adjustment is the left shot right now we have in the bumper as opposed to a righty,” Sacco said. “We all know Bergy had lots of experience in that position, and he was one of the best if not the best at it.”
As the Bruins’ most prolific sniper and the man occupying the left circle on the man advantage, Pastrnak received most of the looks from the right-handed Bergeron. With the left-handed Zacha, Marchand is now the option on his dominant passing side.
The Bruins will look to experiment with their new-look power play as training camp progresses.
“We’re trying to work some different plays off the other side with him being on that side,” Sacco said. “[Zacha] can shoot it very well. I thought the power play looked pretty good tonight. They moved it around; they found some seams. They did a good job.”
Pastrnak notches two tallies in preseason debut.
There are very few assurances in life, but Pastrnak scoring goals is one of them.
The Czech sniper wasted no time returning to his 60-goal form in his preseason debut. Pastrnak’s first of the night came from a lethal wrist shot from the right circle on the power play. In the second period, Pastrnak read Joel Farabee’s pass, walked in, and buried the breakaway chance.
“Physically [I feel good,]” Pastrnak said. “Mentally and position-wise, you feel a little lost. You’re trying to get the brain and legs going at the same time…first game is always like that. Personally, happy that it’s behind me.”
Zacha and Anthony Richard joined Pastrnak on Boston’s top line. Richard, a point-per-game player in the AHL last year, earned an opportunity to showcase himself alongside Boston’s Czech duo.
“[Richard’s] a very smart player, he can find himself in scoring areas,” Pastrnak said. “It was unfortunate we couldn’t get better looks, you know, as a line on five on five. Like I said, first couple of games are like that.”
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