(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
In their second preseason game, the Boston Bruins played host to the Detroit Red Wings and school was definitely in session for the Black and Gold. As the final buzzer sounded, the Red Wings had managed five goals—four of them at even strength and one on the power play, while the Bruins tallied just one in the second period. Preseason is for evaluation, and to borrow a line from the movie A Knight’s Tale, the Boston Bruins have been “weighed, measured and found wanting” after this game.
“Obviously we didn’t play that well, but we had a young lineup in there. There was an opportunity for our organization to evaluate some of our younger players in there again and to see where they’re at,” assistant coach Joe Sacco said after the game. “And for the players, from their side, I think it’s a bit of an eye opener.”
The Bruins did not play well. There was hesitation from many of the players and a lot more miscommunication than was seen in Monday’s first outing. The play between Ryan Spooner and Austin Czarnik that resulted in the lone Bruins goal though was something that all involved should be pleased with.
“I just told [Spooner] let’s use our speed there before the faceoff so I saw him going and I figured I would just get up there because I know he’s a pass-first guy. So I just got up there. He made a good play, great pass and was lucky enough to get it in,” Czarnik said.
“I got the puck and the d-man was trying to stand up. I just tried to make a move on him and slip the check, and then Czarnik made a smart play. He went to the net. I just tried to get it over there. It went in, so it was good to see,” described Spooner.
In fact Spooner split the defensemen and then was conscious of where Czarnik was. It is that awareness of where fellow teammates are that is crucial to successful plays. In this instance it all came together.
For the Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau, also seeing his first preseason game, it was the only shot that got by him of the 36 he saw.
“Yeah, Ryan Spooner, who is actually from Ottawa, I know him, but he made a great play around our defensemen. He is a pretty skilled passer but I guess I over anticipated a shot so I committed down and he got the pass across, it was a great play,” Coreau said after the game. “I just tried to reach for it but, Austin Czarnik is also a really good player so, it just was a really good play.”
The other assist on the Bruins goal was from Matt Grzelcyk, who was in his first preseason game.
“I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle; I’ve never played at this level before,” Grzelcyk shared. “But I knew as the game went on, as long as I was able to keep my legs moving, I kind of built confidence. So I think the third period I felt pretty comfortable out there so I am just going to try to build on that.”
Perhaps it was much the same for many of the other Bruins players who were suiting up for their first preseason game. There is a reason these games don’t count in the standings. They are teaching tools for the coaching staff. A team can run all the drills they want in practice, but it isn’t until the team is tested in a game that the shortcomings may become apparent.
The Red Wings had a number of veteran players suited up in Wednesday night’s game. In fact, four of the five goals were scored by players who had been on the roster last season or at least in the NHL last season. For the young Bruins players this was a true test—they experienced a lot of the speed, skill and strength that it takes to play at the NHL level. And while they were certainly found wanting, they have a much better understanding now of where the bar has been set.
Cuts to Boston’s roster will be coming, though it is unsure exactly when. The Bruins head out on the road Friday where they will meet the Red Wings again. It will be interesting to see how that game plays out and just who will get the nod for both teams.