On one hand, so much has changed for the Bruins since the last time they took the TD Garden ice for a game five months ago: they fired Peter Chiarelli and promoted Don Sweeney to GM, then they traded Milan Lucic to Los Angeles and Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. Still, Boston has a strong nucleus of dependable veterans like goaltender Tuukka Rask, defenseman Zdeno Chara and centers David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron – who all had an extra long summer to get healthy and think about all that went wrong in a 2014-15 season in which the B’s missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
The preseason started this past Sunday in Providence with a 2-0 win over the Devils. Like any other sport, the main objective of the preseason is to keep everybody healthy (promising young forward Seth Griffith is out 3-4 weeks with an MCL injury suffered on Sunday) while also building chemistry between the returning players and the newest members of the team.
Defenseman Matt Irwin (a UMass-Amherst product) scored both goals for Boston against New Jersey and former BC star Jimmy Hayes likewise made his debut with the spoked ‘B.’ Defenseman Colin Miller (obtained in the Lucic trade) assisted on both power-play goals by Irwin, and with his hard shot - not to mention his physical play - it’s easy to see him making an impact on the Bruins this season.
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Some other storylines to watch unfold over the next few weeks for the B’s include seeing forward Matt Beleskey’s (their top free agent signing) transition to the team while also sorting out who will backup Rask. At least initially in training camp, Beleskey has been skating on a line with Krejci and David Pastrnak. The Bruins have lacked a legitimate backup goaltender the last few seasons, causing them to overwork Rask. He started 70 games last season, third-most in the league). Rookie Zane McIntyre was a sixth round pick in 2010 but he just wrapped up a very successful three-year run at the University of North Dakota. Malcolm Subban is still only 21 and the one game he played in last season for the B’s was a disaster (3 goals allowed on 6 shots vs. St. Louis) but he was a 1st round pick in 2012 so the younger brother of PK has the ability. Finally, Jeremy Smith is the oldest of the three contenders and he could have the inside track to the job after he was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL last season with Providence (22-11-5, 2.05 GAA, .933 save percentage).