By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After a 4-0-2 preseason run, the Bruins are ready for the regular season.
Physically and mentally, according to Bruce Cassidy.
It's hard to argue with the fourth-year B's coach's belief that this group is ready to go, too, even if Saturday's 8-2 victory saw them straight-up bully the AHL's Rockford Ice Hogs playing dress-up in Chicago jerseys.
"I don’t care what type of game it is, those guys are still pro hockey players," Cassidy said of the team's competition at TD Garden. "They might not be NHL ready, every one of them, but it’s good for those guys to get a feel for putting the puck in the net again. Tuukka [Rask] got some work. I think that every player has to get what he needs, the veteran guys. The younger guys, they’re more evaluation. We’ll make any decisions we need to after tonight, and sit down tomorrow morning or whatever it is and that’s what they get out of it. Depends on what category you fall into."
For the Bruins, there's more answers than questions entering the regular season, and that's more than welcomed.
Charlie Coyle was without question Boston's best player in camp. If the Bruins are 100 percent healthy, Coyle will absolutely feast on favorable matchups as Boston's third-line pivot, but Cassidy can take comfort in knowing that Coyle can certainly move up the lineup if Bergeron's groin or David Krejci's lower-body injury pushes them out of the lineup at any point in 2019.
The Bruins saw today that their five-man power-play unit with David Pastrnak teeing up bombs is still effective so long as Torey Krug keeps serving up left-floating passes on the platter at the same rate he has for the last three years. They saw enough out of Bergeron (just under 13 minutes) to know he'll be good to go in Dallas, and Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak both seem dialed in and ready to go, with the defense in front of them allowing them to track the puck with ease all preseason long.
And even some of the B's question -- they're still configuring the particulars of their middle-six forward group -- have no shortage of potential answers given the play of their younger forwards and tweeners throughout camp.
But there is one question remaining for Cassidy as the team gets set for the games to count.
"Are we good enough?" Cassidy asked. "That you never know until the puck drops at the start of the year."
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a preseason finale blowout...
Beep beep, Ritchie: 6-foot-4 forward gets on board with first point of preseason
Playing in his fourth contest of the preseason, July 1 signing Brett Ritchie got himself on the board by way of a secondary assist on Jake DeBrusk's third goal of the afternoon, good for his first point as a member of the Bruins. It's been a relatively quiet preseason for the 26-year-old Ritchie, who totaled four goals and six points in 53 games for the Stars last year, but perhaps Saturday could be the start of No. 18 finding his fit within the Black and Gold's forward group, and a potentially as a member of a line with DeBrusk, as Cassidy remains unsure who will skate on the right side of a line with DeBrusk and David Krejci.
Bruins' Cassidy remains hopeful David Krejci (lower-body) plays Opening Night
And hey, speaking of Krejci, Cassidy did note that he expects to have his veteran No. 2 center in action when the puck drops on the regular season in Dallas next Thursday. Though he did not play in Saturday's game, Krejci got in a 'light skate' earlier in the day after missing the last few days with off-ice treatment for a lower-body injury sustained last Monday.
Krejci is coming off a career-best 73 points in 2018-19.
B's have dueling hat tricks for first time since 1964
Bruce Cassidy considers himself a Bruins historian of sorts. So leave it to the Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont to ask Cassidy about the last time the Bruins had dueling hat tricks like they had on Saturday with Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.
"I'm going to say [Rick] Middleton and [Barry] Pederson, I'm just guessing," Cassidy answered.
Nope. It was actually Andy Hebenton and Dean Prentice, who scored three goals each in an 11-0 win over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 18, 1964. (That may have been Dupes' first day on the beat. Kidding, KPD. Half-kidding at the very worst.)
"Who?" Cassidy, obviously puzzled, asked. "Dean Prentice? He was a Minnesota North Star wasn't he?"