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  • Matthew Poitras ‘won’t shy away’ after junior stint and return from injury.

    Tim Rosenthal January 17, 2024

    Through the first half of his rookie season, Matthew Poitras encountered the usual ebbs and flows while getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

    Yet, the 19-year-old centerman embarked on an unusual path over the past few weeks.

    Poitras earned his stripes with the Bruins following a standout performance at training camp, earning a spot on the third line for Boston’s opening-night victory over the Blackhawks. He turned that into a productive nine-game stretch, tallying five points during October.

    With a deadline to potentially return to juniors looming, the Bruins confirmed Poitras’ long-term status ahead of their Nov. 2 tilt against the Maple Leafs.

    His nightly efforts didn’t necessarily translate into statistical results. Still, Poitras adapted himself to the NHL grind accordingly, fine-tuning his puck possession traits while developing into a 200-foot player to compliment his offensive instincts.

    Poitras hit a bit of a wall in December. And with a healthier core of Boston’s forwards available, Don Sweeney made Poitras available for Team Canada during the World Junior Championships in Sweden.

    Despite Canada’s disappointing exit in the knockout round, Poitras provided a reliable hand in top-six duty, notching four points in four games against the top promising players from across the globe in that 20-and-under group.

    With experience on the world stage under his belt, Poitras returned to his pro club hoping to build on his world junior performance amid his continued development at the sport’s highest league. The 2022 second-round selection provided an impactful return to the lineup on Jan. 6, notching a pair of assists in Boston’s 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

    “The first couple of games, I felt good. It was nice to be back,” Poitras said of his return from the WJC. “I feel the pro game here is a little more structured, so it’s easier to kind of slide back into if that makes sense.”

    The tight-knit Boston locker room welcomed Poitras back with open arms. But just as he reacclimated himself to the pro game, Poitras encountered another interruption.

    The 5-foot-11 forward exited during the third period of Boston’s overtime loss in Arizona after colliding with Sean Durzi shortly after the Coyotes claimed a 3-2 lead. The hit itself didn’t lead directly to Poitras’ shoulder injury, but rather the awkward landing along the walls.

    “That was a fluky thing,” Poitras recalled. “It wasn’t so much the hit, but I fell awkwardly.”

    Poitras’ injury marked one of three scares from the first two games of Boston’s road trip.

    As the training staff attended to Poitras at Mullet Arena, the Bruins watched Linus Ullmark succumb to a lower-body injury shortly into overtime. A night earlier, Brandon Carlo left with an upper-body ailment during the second period of Boston’s 4-3 shootout loss in Colorado.

    All three, along with Derek Forbort (groin), returned to practice Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena.

    Head coach Jim Montgomery stated that Ullmark is available for Thursday’s rematch with the Avalanche. The Bruins will have a better idea on Poitras and Carlo leading up to their second tilt of the season with Colorado, while Forbort will have to wait a bit following his first practice with the team since being placed on LTIR on Dec. 7.

    “Carlo is closer. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow before we know for sure where he’s at. Forbort, he’s not going to be an option tomorrow night. He’s just starting the steps towards progressing back,” Montgomery said. “And Poitras, again, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

    Indeed, the Bruins could use their full complement of players when they host one of the league’s more well-rounded squads on Thursday night.

    The second and final tilt of the season will provide the Bruins with a good baramoter against the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar.

    While Poitras’ status for Thursday remains unknown, his maturity, confidence and work ethic will only suit him well amid the heightened stakes of the playoff push. And even as he grows into his body, Poitras won’t shy away from contact or driving to the net to generate primary and secondary scoring bids.

    “I feel the game is a bit more physical. Guys are bigger and stronger, but I feel like I’ve done a good job adapting. Obviously, there are going to be bigger guys than me, so it’s just about adapting to that area where I can protect myself,” Poitras said.

    “I don’t shy away from physicality. I like to get into the dirty area.”

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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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