Although The Bruins’ record last season under GM Gallant was a favorable 14-11-4-1, the feeling going into the off-season was that the team would undergo an overhaul. Many transactions were completed, both in additions to the lineup as well as the future in the form of picks and prospects, leading up to pre-season play in September. The team ended with a 3-2-1-0 record, essentially on par with how the team performed under new leadership in the latter half of the 2016-17 season.
“I saw a lot of promise from some unexpected players,” GM Gallant said Monday morning. “Guys like Steen, Crawford and Stafford came as advertised. They all had a solid pre-season. Brock McGinn is a player that really came out of nowhere.” The 23-year old, who played 25 games with Florida last season, finished the pre-season with 5 points in 6 games, including 3 goals. “He was a plus player, didn’t sit a second in the penalty box and threw some hits. I think he finished with 9 or 10.” Despite the surprising offensive numbers, he’s expected to skate on the third line on opening night along with Jamie McGinn and John Mitchell.
Steen finished tied with the younger McGinn in points with 5, while Stafford and Connolly potted 2 goals apiece. “I really liked their play. None of them were liabilities in our end, and that’s going to be an important part of our game.” On the other end however, Brayden Schenn, Zach Parise and Josh Anderson all struggled to get going early on. Anderson finished with 2 goals, both scored in the last game, while Schenn failed to light up the lamp at all. The trio, who skated together under Gallant’s watch last season, finished with 3 points apiece. “I liked how they played together last year. They didn’t play together, at least not all 3, this off-season. Maybe that’s something we revisit opening night. We’ll see, we have time to play with the lines a bit before then.”
On the backend, the defensive unit is not expected to contribute a lot offensively. Newcomers Brendan Dillon and Michael Kapla both played solid minutes and moved the puck efficiently. Eric Gryba delivered a team-leading 27 hits, while veterans Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch were up to their assigned tasks. “Petry is someone I would’ve liked to see jump up in the play a bit more,” Gallant said. “He’s had some injuries, there might be some apprehension there but I’m sure we’ll see the old Petry show up here once we play for keeps.” The 30-year old put up a goal and an assist in 6 games.
The last line of defense had some ups and downs, but mostly performed well. Crawford started 4 games, going 3-1 with a GAA of 2.50. He backstopped the team to a victory over the highly-favored Florida Panthers. His save percentage stayed just north of .900, something the team would like to see improve. “We need those big saves,” Crawford said. “I expect it out of myself and the boys are counting on me. I’ll answer the call.” The team’s backup goalie this year, Antti Niemi, starting two games, losing a blowout to the LA Kings but bouncing back in a solid performance against Washington, earning a tie with a 36 save performance.
The team's opening night roster currently looks like this, but things could change:
J. McGinn-Mitchell-B. McGinn
Crawford - Niemi
The Bruins play on opening night, hosting the Washington Capitals. The team will play their first 5 games at home.