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Tuukka Rask happy to get back on ice: ‘You kind of forget how tough it is out there’

09.29.15 at 12:12 am ET
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The long wait finally came to an end for Tuukka Rask Monday night.

The 28-year-old goalie made his 2015 preseason debut after watching the likes of Jonas Gustavsson, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre fill the void over the first four games, all wins.

Monday night wasn’t about the final result, a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was about getting Rask’s feet wet for the first time in game action since the regular season finale last April 11 at Tampa Bay. That night, the Bruins were eliminated in the middle of the game. Monday night, in a game with far less significance, Rask stopped 21 of 24 shots in getting his first taste of action.

“Good to get it out of the way,” Rask said. “You kind of forget how tough it is out there. It doesn’€™t matter how much you workout or skate, it’€™s always different when it’s a real game and I definitely felt it. It’€™s good to get that first one out of the belt and to keep moving on that.”

Rask posted a 2.30 goals against last season with a 34-21-13 mark in 70 games. He will, of course, be the starting goalie for the Bruins when they open the season on Oct. 8 against Winnipeg at TD Garden.

“I think at this point I focus on myself and getting my game where I feel like it needs to be – it’€™s just with the feel and everything,” Rask said. “I felt that timing was sometimes a little off, angles were a little off at times — not natural all the time. Those are the things I need to work on, but I think in the bigger picture too, looking at the breakouts we did a pretty good job today and communication was pretty good too. The first period I had to handle it a couple times, the first one of the game I just made a bad pass, but after that I made a couple good passes. A couple guys talked to me where they wanted the puck to be and I think they did a good job in front of the net, clearing some sticks and some players. I think it was good.”

Rask realizes that improving Boston’s breakout this season begins with him.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Tuukka Rask,

Bruins defense a work in progress with season approaching

09.29.15 at 12:07 am ET
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Zach Trotman

Zach Trotman

Boston’€™s top goalie Tuukka Rask made his pre-season debut on Monday night at TD Garden, but his play really wasn’€™t what Bruins coach Claude Julien had his eye on.

Rather, it was the group of six defensemen who saw action in front of Rask that Julien was watching most intently.

“œWe’€™re evaluating more the back end than we were Tuukka,”€ Julien said. “€œWe’€™ve got some young €˜D’€™s€™ here and some spots to fill. Spots to win and spots to lose. So we’€™re looking closely at those guys on the back end. Some of those goals tonight [Rask] didn’€™t get much help.”

Boston dropped the final decision to Detroit 3-1, allowing at least two markers that didn’€™t thrill Julien in regards to his team’€™s play on that back end.

“œThat first goal a guy walks right into the slot,”€ said Julien of the game’s first goal scored by Detroit’s Drew Miller, with Boston’s defensemen Linus Arnesson and Kevan Miller near the crease some distance away.

And the second Detroit goal, with Tomas Jurko getting behind Arnesson and Colin Miller to make it 2-0?

“It was a mix-up there between our two D’€™s,”€ said Julien. “We laid it in [on the dump-in] and our right D changed hoping that our left D would go to right to be closer to the bench. Somehow they stayed in the same half of the ice and allowed them that breakaway.”€

Without the blue-line services of Dennis Seidenberg for several more weeks and Zdeno Chara for an unknown length of time, some of Julien’€™s young defensemen will need to raise their game when the season begins a week from this Thursday.

“œI think guys are getting used to having more pressure on them on the forecheck,” said Zach Trotman, who logged 18:39 of ice time Monday playing primarily alongside Torey Krug. “Getting used to reads. Getting some chemistry with other players and partners. We’€™ve gotten to play with each other for a couple games now. You’€™re going to notice that breakouts are a little cleaner, neutral zone is going to be a little cleaner. And then jumping up in the play and stuff and adjusting to the tweaks we’€™ve made to our system.”€

Those tweaks to the Bruins system are designed to help spark an offense that ranked 22nd in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.55) last season. However, timing is everything in making sure the defense doesn’t suffer.

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Read More: Claude Julien, Kevan Miller, Linus Arnesson,

Observations from Bruins’ preseason loss to Red Wings

09.28.15 at 9:28 pm ET
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Jimmy Howard lost his shutout bid in the final minute of Monday night’s preseason contest as the Red Wings earned a 3-1 win over the Bruins at TD Garden. Here are some quick observations from the preseason contest:

Tuukka Rask made his first start of the preseason. After coming up with an impressive kick save on Drew Miller and stopping him again point blank in the second period, Miller finally cashed in on one of his chances when he fired a shot from the right circle past Rask at 7:11 of the second.

Rask didn’€™t get much help from the guys in front of him on Detroit’€™s second goal. After getting burned by Tomas Jurco, Linus Arnesson took a hack at Jurco but did not deter the Red Wings forward from scoring on the delayed penalty call. The Wings went up 3-0 in the third on a Andreas Athanosiou wrist shot from the point.

Rask finished the game with 21 saves on 23 shots.

— Loui Eriksson scored Boston’s only goal, with Loui Eriksson picking up a rebound in front off a Torey Krug point shot during 6-on-5 play and jamming it past Howard. It was a good finish to the game for his line with Patrice Bergeron and Marchand after the trio struggled to stay onside early in the contest.

— The B’€™s survived an injury scare late in the second period. After leaving the ice slowly and in pain, Brad Marchand could be seen grabbing his right thigh area as he remained on the bench for the final 5:38 of the period. Fortunately for the Bruins, Marchand was back on the ice to start the third period.

— David Pastrnak may have taken an uncalled stick to the face late in the third period. Pastrnak dropped his stick and left the ice holding his mouth after Brian Lashoff’€™s stick apparently got him with a little more than four minutes remaining.

David Krejci was not in Monday’€™s lineup, Matt Beleskey and Pastrnak were centered by Austin Czarnik. The line wasn’€™t anything special, though it did draw a pair of penalties.

Pastrnak sprung Beleskey for a breakaway, but the puck was just out of his reach and Jimmy came out of his net to minimize the threat.

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Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask,

Tuukka Rask to get first preseason action, David Krejci returns to practice

09.28.15 at 1:01 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will see his first preseason action Monday night, as he is expected to play the entire time as the Bruins host the Red Wings.

Speaking after Monday’€™s practice, Rask said he doesn’€™t mind having sat out the Bruins’€™ first four games of the preseason, as he’€™s as invested in seeing who wins the backup job as anyone.

“I’€™ve been fine. I’€™m sure I could have had a game or half a game if I really wanted to,” Rask said. “We figured that I’€™ll play my games this week and carry it over to next week.”

Jonas Gustavsson will back up Rask on Monday. Still on a professional tryout, he is back with the team after leaving to attend the birth of his first child. Gustavsson, Rask and Jeremy Smith are the only goalies left in camp after the B’€™s sent Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre to Providence Sunday.

The projected lineup for Monday’€™s game is as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Beleskey-Czarnik-Pastrnak
Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes
Kelly-Kemppainen-Talbot

Krug-Trotman
Arnesson-K. Miller
Morrow-C. Miller

Rask
Gustavsson

David Krejci, who was given Sunday off, practiced with the second group Monday. Among the others to skate with the second group were Adam McQuaid, Zac Rinaldo and Brett Connolly. Word is that practice was particularly taxing, as one player was overheard saying it with the toughest of camp so far.

Read More: David Krejci, Tuukka Rask,

Dennis Seidenberg still not sure how injury occurred

09.28.15 at 11:56 am ET
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Coming off last week’€™s surgery to repair a herniated disc, Dennis Seidenberg is walking around just fine. He is far from playing hockey, however.

Speaking to the media for the first time since having a 45-minute procedure Thursday, Seidenberg said on Monday that he has to wait two weeks for his incision to heal before meeting with a doctor. In the meantime, he won’€™t do anything but go for walks.

The Bruins said upon announcing Seidenberg’€™s surgery and eight-week absence that the player suffered a back injury while working out. Seidenberg’€™s version of the story disagrees with the Bruins’€™ message, as he stressed Monday that he does not know what caused it.

“I wish [I knew],”€ he said. “Usually when something like this happens, you’€™re like, ‘€˜Oh my god,’€™ doing a movement or exercising somehow, but I woke up that morning — that was, I think, Monday [Sept. 14] — just feeling that nerve pain.

“I had a feeling in the back of my leg, and then eventually shooting down my calf. I notified the staff. I went to see a doctor and got an MRI first that showed nerves being pinched –€” L5-S1.

“From then on, the doctor said, ‘€˜OK. We’€™re going to wait a week and see if it goes away by itself.’€™ Sometimes that happens with an extruded disc. It didn’€™t, so we went on to do the surgery.”

Seidenberg added that he felt more discomfort than pain.

“I didn’€™t have any pain,” he said. “I just had — not a numbness, but my calf wasn’€™t firing. I couldn’€™t push off. After surgery, I was walking the same day.”

The 34-year-old’€™s injury (and subsequent procedure) is similar to what Chris Kelly had at the end of the 2013-14 regular season. Seidenberg noted that his recovery is expected to be cleaner than Kelly’€™s was because he had his surgery earlier, thus avoiding atrophy. Kelly didn’€™t have surgery until six weeks after his injury, while Seidenberg got his done after two and a half weeks.

“We kind of nipped it in the bud pretty quickly,” Seidenberg said. “Hopefully that helps in the recovery.”

Seidenberg lamented the timing of his injury, as he was hoping to solidify a defense that needs steady top-four defensemen badly. He hopes he can still do that when he eventually returns.

“Eight weeks is still pretty long,” he said. “Missing any time is not good, but it’€™s the start of the season. Hopefully I’€™ll get to play a good amount of games and be good.”

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg,

Zdeno Chara progressing, skates prior to Bruins practice

09.28.15 at 9:57 am ET
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Claude Julien is optimistic about Zdeno Chara‘s status after the Boston captain skated on his own Monday morning at TD Garden.

Chara, who left Thursday night’€™s preseason game with an upper-body injury after three shifts, was given the weekend off by the Bruins. Claude Julien said Saturday that the team’€™s plan was to re-evaluate him on Monday. According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Chara skated for over half an hour.

Julien said that Chara will not play in Monday night’s preseason game against the Red Wings, but that the team is encouraged by his progress.

“We’€™ve kept it day-to-day because he’€™s progressing,” Julien said. “Obviously [he won’t play] tonight. We’€™ll see how the rest of the week goes here. Like anything else, we’€™re going to be more cautious than anything.”

The fact that Chara is skating now is reason to believe his injury isn’t serious to keep him out of regular-season action, though his status will obviously be monitored going forward.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,

Bruins roster projection: Which forward is odd man out?

09.27.15 at 11:19 pm ET
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Alexander Khokhachev

Alexander Khokhachev

With another round of cuts in the books, here’€™s a (still somewhat early) roster projection for the Bruins:

Forwards (13): Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Chris Kelly, Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Max Talbot, Joonas Kemppainen

Boston’s top nine forwards (in no particular order/alignment) are already locked in. It’s the fourth line and 13th forward where things get tricky.

A line of Chris Kelly between Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot could potentially be infuriating to play against (Kelly gets under his opponents’ skin enough to draw a good number of undisciplined penalties, Talbot is a pest and Rinaldo is Rinaldo), but it would lack skill. The B’€™s could try Alexander Khokhlachev on the fourth line to remedy that, but that likely wouldn’€™t happen unless the B’€™s were to trade Kelly, who is due $3 million against the cap.

Given what a tough time veteran forwards had finding jobs this summer, the guess is the Bruins would have difficulty trading the 34-year-old center this time of year even if they wanted to.

As such, assume for now that Kelly isn’€™t going anywhere and that Khokhlachev is the odd man out. Kelly and Talbot provide upgrades over Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, so the B’€™s should hope to ice a better fourth line than they had last season.

Pushing for a job, however, is Kemppainen, a defensive forward who comes to the NHL as a 27-year-old after playing his entire professional career in Finland. To this point, Kemppainen has been put on lines this preseason with Rinaldo and Talbot more than Kelly has. That could simply be because the Bruins feel they already know what they have in Kelly, though giving him some reps with Rinaldo couldn’€™t hurt.

Early guess at lines:  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Alexander Khokhlachev, Chris Kelly, Jeremy Smith,

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