On Sunday evening, the Boston Bruins took to the ice in their first preseason game. They took on the New Jersey Devils at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island—home to the AHL Providence Bruins. So for some of those picked to play in that first game, it was a homecoming of sorts, as they played there during the previous season. For one new acquisition—through the trade of Milan Lucic to the LA Kings—it was a familiar arena, but a different bench.
“Yeah, it was a little weird being on the other bench,” Colin Miller said. “But definitely happy to be on that side.”
And Miller’s approach to the hip check got the crowd cheering when he landed a solid one on a Devils player, putting him down to the ice. No doubt the fans hope to see more of that from Miller, but there is a down side to it.
“It’s fun if it works. I mean, if you miss him you are kind of in trouble,” Miller laughed. “So, no, I just tried to get him there and it worked out for me.”
Miller is vying for a spot on the roster, but he is up against a number of qualified defensemen who also covet one of the few spots available in Boston.
The game on Sunday started out with the Devils in control, but as the Bruins began to gel, the game took a decidedly chippy turn, with lots of scrums taking place after the whistle, including the final whistle.
“With New Jersey, they always like to set up scrums and hopefully to antagonize me to, not just me, the other guys on the ice too, to get that extra punch in or extra stupidity play that we don’t need,” said Zac Rinaldo on Tuesday. “We stayed out of all that [stuff] and we did a really good job.”
After practice on Tuesday, Rinaldo fielded a variety of questions from the media about his history with Max Talbot on the Philadelphia Flyers and his play.
“I kept it smart. There were so many scrums and I stayed out of all the scrums. It’s a mature factor,” he said. “Scrumming for me is… even the the refs said during that game, ‘If you guys are gonna scrum, you might as well fight.’ So I mean, scrumming is kinda a pain in the [butt] for me. It’s just annoying for me so I really stayed out of the scrums.”
However, when it came to his speed, he used that to move the puck, but also to draw penalties. He assured the media that he’s not someone who fakes an injury or dives, instead his style of play often forces the other team to slash, hook, or hold him in an attempt to slow him down.
“I think I drew two good penalties and we capitalized on one to give that extra push with the go ahead goal there,” Rinaldo shared. “I think me utilizing my speed, [forcing] them to take penalties is what I took out of that game.”
Despite a slow start in the first, and being outshot throughout the entire game, the Bruins were able to come out with the win notching two goals, both by Matt Irwin. And the tandem goalies Jeremy Smith and Jonas Gustavsson walked away with a shutout.
Unfortunately, in addition to the many positives that came out of the game, there was a major negative in the injury to forward Seth Griffith. It was announced on Monday afternoon that Griffith will miss three to four weeks with a MCL sprain in his left knee. The injury occurred in the third period of the game against the Devils in what looked like a knee-on-knee hit.
The Bruins will be on the Garden ice tonight for their second preseason game, this time against the Washington Capitals, which will include a 3-on-3 overtime regardless of the final score in regulation. All of the teams will be practicing the new overtime format during the preseason, so that when the regular season gets underway everyone has had equal experience with it in a competition atmosphere.