PRAGUE — The Bruins catch a bus to Liberec, Czech Republic, later this afternoon for tonight’s game against Liberec HC, what will be Boston’s final pre-season tuneup. The real games start Saturday when the Bruins face the Coyotes at O2 arena in what will be the NHL season opener for both squads.
Thisah and thatah and things that mattah from this morning’s workout at the O2:
Bergeron center of power supply
Coach Claude Julien moved Patrice Bergeron off the point and up to slot duty on the power play. At least to start tonight’s game, Bergeron should be centering Mark Recchi and David Krejci on the man-advantage, with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg at the points.
”Hopefully we’ll get it going a little bit, as we get closer to the regular season,” said Julien. ”We hope we have the right guys together, and if not we have to figure it out quickly.”
Too many men on the bench?
Contrary to NHL games, which dictate that clubs can dress only 18 skaters and two goalies, European rules allow 20 skaters and two goalies. The Bruins will go full-Euro tonight, with only defenseman Matt Bartkowski, forward Brian McGrattan and goalie Nolan Schaefer out of the mix. Otherwise, 13 forwards, 7 defensemen and two ‘tenders.
It’s the second game in a row that Bartkowski hasn’t played east of Cape Cod, but Julien cautioned not to read anything into the former Ohio State Buckeye being left out.
”We know what he can give us,” mused Julien. ”So I wouldn’t read into it that he’s done.”
Thomas takes the cage
Look for Thomas to get the start in net, backed up by Tuukka Rask, who was in the net for Saturday’s 5-1 thumping of the Belfast Giants Selects.
Savard ”doing well”, says Julien
Julien didn’t have a detailed update on Marc Savard’s rehab or whether the No. 1 center, recovering from post-concussion syndrome, will journey here later in the week to be around the club for the season’t start.
”I only know that he’s working out and doing well,” said Julien. ”I don’t have the answer, whether or not he’ll join us.”
GM Peter Chiarelli said late last week in Belfast that Savard, slowly increasing his heart rate in very light workouts, might be more prudent to remain in the Hub, where he could continue his workouts and be near the club’s neuro-psych consultants.
NHL ice expert Dan Craig was on hand at O2 arena this morning, looking and sounding pleased over the arena’s gleaming sheet. The Bruins and Coyotes play on a conventionally-sized NHL sheet here in Prague.
According to Craig, the man who oversaw the installation of the ice sheet at Fenway Park for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, the rinks here and in Helsinki, Finland, are normally 15-feet wider (like most European sheets). But rather than retrofit the bigger sheets to NHL standards, both cites this season opened their regular season on the downsized made-for-NHL-games sheets.
When the NHL teams head home, the two European rinks will flood and freeze back to their maxes (100- feet wide).
”They tried the other way,” said Craig. ”But it was too difficult to freeze the big sheet and then make it narrower. Much easier this way.”
A man by any other name
Milan Lucic, who has a far greater sense of humor than many blog readers, was told this morning by your faithful puck correspondent that he was identified briefly and mistakenly as ”Vladimir” Lucic in this space. He was offered the due apology.
”Really?! No problem,” said a smiling Looch. ”Hey….stop the presses!”
Ride ’em cowboy
Spotted outside the Coyotes dressing room at the O2: Ulf Samuelsson, riding a stationary bike. The Bruins locker room is right around a hallway’s corner from the bike location. But, too bad, Cam Neely was nowhere to be found. Might have made for an impromtu UFC beatdown.
Cut ’em loose
As of 3 p.m (EDT) on Wednesday, the Bruins must notify the league of their full roster for the start of the season. Chiarelli noted days ago that he’ll go with a 23-man roster (the limit), which means pruning will be minimal.
Look for Schaefer (G) to be assigned to the minors. Technically, one skater will have to be dropped, too, but McGrattan is here on a tryout, which really makes Boston’s current 25-man traveling contingent a 24-man roster. However, if McGrattan is signed prior to 3 p.m., then there could be a roster math issue.
Once a player is officially trimmed from the roster, he is not allowed to work out with the club. Schaefer will remain in Prague and will fly home with the team Sunday eve.
As always, blog dawgs, keep your eyes trained here for constant updates. This space’s digital daddy, Fluto ”Hacksaw” Shinzawa, remains home in Hub, contemplating line changes, ‘D’ pairings, checking daily on Causeway ice sheet and city’s total cigar count.
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