Bruins center Charlie Coyle knew he was behind the eight ball this training camp.
Held out of the first five games of the preseason as the Bruins did everything they could not to tax their projected second-line pivot ahead of an 82-game marathon, Coyle knew that Wednesday’s preseason finale needed to come with something. Asked if one game was going to be enough to get him ready for the regular season, Coyle offered a simple “it’s gonna have to be” and set his sights on building chemistry with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.
And the trio certainly appeared to have it in their first and only showing of the preseason, as the line scored two of Boston’s three goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals at TD Garden.
“They attacked well,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the game. “I thought Charlie was solid through the middle in term of accelerating and kicking it out. Playing north-south hockey was good for them.
“Tonight’s only one game, but it’s a good start.”
The line’s scoring was, naturally, opened up by Coyle, who put home a dirty goal through the Capitals’ Vitek Vanecek at the 7:28 mark of the first period.
Sure seems like Charlie Coyle is going to enjoy playing with Taylor Hall: pic.twitter.com/pBx28xJDjn— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 6, 2021
And with the Bruins down by one following two goals in a 56-second stretch in the second period, it was the Hall-Coyle-Smith line that struck once again, this time with Hall collecting a loose puck and putting it through Vanecek for the game-tying goal.
The Hall-Coyle-Smith line cashes in again.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 7, 2021
Taylor Hall ties things up. pic.twitter.com/uKRwExhOaf
It was about as good a first impression as you could have hoped for from the line, which finished the night with six five-on-five shots and six scoring chances in 8:30 of five-on-five action together.
But it was not enough, as the Capitals took the victory behind an Anthony Mantha overtime tally that beat the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark through the wickets after the Bruins forced overtime with a David Pastrnak marker with just 3:39 left in the game.
For Ullmark, it was his second overtime loss of the preseason, and an effort that featured saves on 26 of the 30 shots thrown his way by the night’s end. The 28-year-old finished the preseason with an .839 save percentage, which is hardly what the Bruins wanted to see from a first impression standpoint, but Ullmark feels that his game took a step forward on Wednesday night, and vowed to be ready for the start of the regular season.
“I felt like today was a step in the right direction, more natural,” Ullmark said. “Just keep on working. I’m certain that I’m ready to go when the season starts.”
With the preseason behind them, the Bruins will turn their attention to the regular season and get set for a season-opening showdown with the Dallas Stars on Oct. 16.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.