4 takeaways from the Bruins’ preseason so far

The B's are now 4-0-0 in the preseason.

Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals
Bruins rookie Jakub Lauko scores a goal on goalie Braden Holtby during the first period against the Washington Capitals on September 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. –Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While one half of the Bruins roster earned two wins over the defending Stanley Cup Champions in Washington D.C., the other half was wrapping up a week in China. Playing two exhibition games against the Calgary Flames as part of the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games, a squad of mostly veteran Bruins began their preseason overseas and returned to Boston on Thursday with two wins under their belt.

Though the team was at half strength for the first few preseason games, the Bruins are now 4-0-0 in the preseason and are gearing up for the Detroit, where they will face the Red Wings on Saturday.

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Here are a few takeaways from the Bruins’ preseason so far:

The new kids can hold their own.

Young prospects, AHL players and PTO signees made up most of the Bruins lineup for the Bruins-Caps stateside matchup, while seasoned stars– T.J. Oshie, Niklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby– took the ice for the Capitals. The Bruins emerged with a 5-2 win in D.C., seeing multiple goals from young players.

21-year-old Bruins prospect Zach Senyshyn finished Tuesday’s game with two goals and seven shots, including a backhanded goal off his own rebound.

Senyshyn’s first game on Sunday was a forgettable one, seeing seven penalty minutes and only one shot on net. A first-round pick in the 2015 draft, he played 66 games with the Providence Bruins in the AHL and had back-to-back seasons of 42-plus goals in the OHL.

“I don’t really have too much experience up here, and it’s been great to watch and great to learn in Providence, but it definitely gives you a lot of confidence to be able to pot a couple,” Senyshyn said.

Tuesday’s game also saw goals from Cameron Hughes, a 2015 sixth-round pick and, Jakub Lauko. Hughes opened up the scoring Tuesday with an early goal, later noting team chemistry as a contributing factor to his performance.

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Senyshyn and Hughes are joined by other Bruins prospects in their fight for a roster spot, including former BU center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Team USA World Junior Class bronze medalist Trent Frederic, and 19-year-old Oshawa Generals center Jack Studnicka.

Though most of the new kids will be shipped off to juniors teams or to Providence as part of roster cuts, their preseason performances eliminate any doubt of their success once they reach the professional level.

Lauko might really be ‘one of the biggest steals in the draft.’

18-year-old Jakub Lauko earned the Bruins their second goal on Tuesday, beating 2016 Vezina Trophy Winner Braden Holtby five-hole on a breakaway- and impressive feat, considering he had scored his first NHL goal just two days earlier, during Sunday’s game at TD Garden.

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In just 14:21 of ice time in his debut on Sunday, the Czech native finished with a goal, three shot attempts, three hits, a takeaway and two blocked shots.

“I’m trying, I’m trying a lot,” Lauko said after his first game with the Bruins. “I’m trying [to learn] on the ice and off the ice. And I hope I can stay for next season– here or in Providence, it doesn’t matter where. I want to stay in America,”

Speed is one of the teen’s biggest strengths; as one of the speediest players in his draft class, the Bruins initially had Lauko pegged as a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft but were “ecstatic” to get him in the third. Lauko even said it himself: “I expected to be higher, but now I can prove to everyone that I am one of the biggest steals in the draft.”

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Though it’s most likely that he spends the upcoming season in Providence rather than Boston, Lauko has already made a name for himself as a promising young player worth watching.

If history repeats itself, we’re in luck.

The Bruins have a good history when it comes to playing games overseas. The last time the Bruins headed overseas, it was with five other NHL teams in the 2010 NHL Premiere. While there, the Bruins were 3-1 and spent downtime exploring the local cultures that Europe had to offer. New cultures and team bonding overseas seemed to bode well for the Bruins that year, because they went on to win the Stanley Cup at the end of the season.

Having spent a week in China for the 2018 NHL China games, the Bruins got another opportunity to experience foreign cultures and bond as a team in a new setting, something that set a positive tone for the Bruins road to the Stanley Cup in 2010-11.

Kicking off the 2018 preseason in China might be a good omen for the Bruins, who are due to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time since 2011. With four wins already under their belt– two of which were against the defending champions– Boston looks like it’s in luck, should Stanley Cup history actually repeat itself.

It was business as usual for the Bruins in China

While the new kids were making themselves known on the domestic front, Bruins vets were carrying on business as usual in Shenzhen and then Beijing, China.

The exhibition games against the Flames gave the Bruins’ 2017 rookie class a chance to step up and earn a spot amongst the team’s top offensive players, filling an opening left behind by unsigned veteran Rick Nash.

In the first game against the Flames in Shenzhen on Saturday, Ryan Donato, Trent Frederic and John Moore tallied a goal each in the first period before the Flames rallied and sent the game into a shootout. Jake DeBrusk scored the only goal of the shootout during the fourth round, earning the Bruins their first preseason victory.

DeBrusk carried that momentum over into Wednesday’s game in Beijing, scoring two goals against Calgary with the help of linemates Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Donato. Even though he missed the second period with a hint of “stomach flu,” DeBrusk managed to score both goals ahead of Kevan Miller’s empty netter and lead the Bruins to another win.

The China games saw good performances from seasoned Bruins stars as they played and trained alongside some newbies, including Tuukka Rask, who trained alongside new goaltender Jaroslav Halak, and Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, who gelled with new forwards as they were tested out on the first-line.

Donato, along with rookie classmates Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy, all shined during their breakout seasons, but it was Heinen who led the rookie class in all offensive categories in the 2017-18 season. Though Heinen remained stateside for the Bruins’ preseason openers, he still has an eye on the spot that Nash left behind.

“I don’t think there’s any question that he’s competing for a spot,” assistant coach Joe Sacco said of Heinen. “Whether it be a top-six role on the right side, left side. He had a good season last year, his first year, first full season in the league. He responded well.”

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