3 things to watch for during Bruins’ preseason game vs. Sabres

"His battle tools and his will are some things that we're looking to see take a step."

Defenseman Mason Lohrei, right fires a shot on goal during a Bruins development camp scrimmage at Warrior Arena.
Mason Lohrei and the Bruins will head to Buffalo on Tuesday night. Ken McGagh / The Boston Globe

After defeating the Rangers, 3-0, in their preseason opener on Sunday evening, the Bruins will be back at it on Tuesday for a preseason bout on the road against the Sabres. Puck drop from Buffalo is set for 7 p.m.

Here is a look at Boston’s traveling roster for Tuesday’s game:

Forwards: John Beecher, Jesper Boqvist, Alex Chiasson, John Farinacci, Danton Heinen, Trevor Kuntar, Jakub Lauko, Milan Lucic, Marc McLaughlin, Jayson Megna, Georgii Merkulov, Oskar Steen, Luke Toporowski

Defensemen: Frederic Brunet, Brandon Carlo, Jackson Edward, Matt Grzelcyk, Mason Lohrei, Ryan Mast, Ian Mitchell

Goaltenders: Michael DiPietro, Kyle Keyser


Here are three things to keep tabs on during Tuesday’s game:

An extended look at a fourth-line combination?

Johnny Beecher put his best foot forward on Sunday when it came to fighting for Boston’s vacancy at the fourth-line center spot.

Along with scoring a goal, the 2019 first-round pick won 7-of-his-11 faceoffs while using his trademark speed to land some welts on the forecheck and separate a few Blueshirts from the puck.

He’ll get another chance to raise his stock on Tuesday, especially next to another physical skater in Jakub Lauko.

“I think just using his speed offensively and defensively to create numbers and winning battles, staying on top of pucks,” Jim Montgomery said of what Boston hopes to see from Beecher on Tuesday. “It’s an area that everybody can be better in, but I think it’s an area in particular for him is raising his pace of intensity to be able to win battles.

“His physical tools are very obvious. His battle tools and his will are some things that we’re looking to see take a step so that he can be a Bruin.”

If both Beecher and Lauko can get their feet moving, force turnovers, and pin the Sabres in their own zone on Tuesday, that could be the makings of a smash-mouth fourth line that can do damage whenever they hop over the boards — especially alongside Milan Lucic.

Mason Lohrei makes his debut 

Most of the hype surrounding the Bruins’ blue-chip prospects early on in camp has usually centered around forwards like Matthew Poitras, Fabian Lysell, and Georgii Merkulov (who will play tonight).


But Tuesday will also see defenseman Mason Lohrei make his preseason debut, with the 22-year-old blueliner expected to log top-pairing minutes alongside Brandon Carlo.

“It’s been a lot of fun playing with him,” Carlo said on Tuesday. “I feel like our communication is getting better. And then from there, he’s had some really great moments moving the puck.

“You can tell that he’s got that within his game. But with our length and long sticks, hopefully we will be able to close a lot of those rushes off by the blue line. And that’s something I’m looking to do tonight. But [he’s] definitely impressed me so far.”

Lohrei (61 points in 71 games at Ohio State) boasts arguably the highest ceiling among Bruins prospects given his playmaking capabilities. While there are many D-men whose game revolve around their O-zone play, few also clock in at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds like Lohrei.

A strong camp could see the left-shot skater potentially push for a spot on the NHL roster, especially further down on the depth chart. Still, the cautious route for Lohrei might see him open the year in Providence to get a bit more seasoning.

He’s logged a total of eight AHL games in his career, with his skating and D-zone play standing as areas of emphasis for him to improve on.


“What I like about him is his brain, his length, his feet,” Montgomery said of Lohrei. “He has tremendous poise with the puck. Again, I think the benefit of him going to play in Providence and getting a lot of games is getting used to our system.

“He seems to be very comfortable now this year in playing fast defensively in our D-zone. … We need to see at the NHL level — how many battles is he going to win? How often is he going to win foot races to be first on the puck? And how much does he help us in our transition offensively and defensively?”

Can PTO candidates put their best foot forward?

There are several prospects and Providence regulars trying to land an NHL gig over the next two weeks.

But the two players feeling the most pressure this preseason might be forwards Alex Chiasson and Danton Heinen, who are both operating on professional tryout (PTO) contracts.

Based on Tuesday’s morning skate, Heinen will skate on a line with Georgii Merkulov and Oskar Steen, while Chaisson will skate with Lucic and Marc McLaughlin.

Both wingers could be in the mix for vacancies across the bottom-six unit, especially on a third line next to a potential duo of Morgan Geekie and Trent Frederic.

Heinen might hold the early edge thanks to his versatility and familiarity with both the Bruins and Jim Montgomery (his collegiate coach at the University of Denver.) But Chiasson could be a useful power-play weapon for Boston, especially at the netfront.


“I think both have been very effective in camp so far,” Montgomery said of Heinen and Chiasson. “You can tell that they’re NHL players and they have NHL brains and they work at the right pace. They need to outplay people. That’s what needs to happen.”


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on