Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 05: Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 05, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Things felt a bit more normal around Warrior Ice Arena for Saturday’s morning skate.

With their first week of centennial celebrations officially behind them, and after having Friday off, the Bruins took to the ice with an appreciation for the week that was, but with the realization that their march is just beginning. And with the team fully focused on the task at hand with a visit from the Predators on deck.

“That was a special night for sure, but now we gotta make sure that we stay motivated,” Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk acknowledged. “There was obviously  lot to play for [on Opening Night], but now we have another tough opponent playing pretty well to start the year, so we’re going to have our hands full.”


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The Predators are coming to town riding the high of a Thursday night victory over the Kraken, and on the back of Juuse Saros and his perfect 23-for-23 line in the Nashville net. It was the perfect rebound to the club’s opening day loss to the Lightning, and with Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery already taking note of what the Preds are trying to build under new head coach Andrew Brunette.

“They’re more of a fastbreak team, more of a transition team than they were before,” Montgomery said of the Predators. “D-zone [play] is different. They’re more of a zone in the D-zone, similar to ours. I think when you’re introducing it for the first time to a whole group that haven’t played that, it takes a while before you start to play fast.

“But between their first game and their second game, they have already significantly improved how fast they play.”

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    The Bruins split last year’s season series at one win apiece, with the road team winning both games. What’s interesting is that the Predators have never rattled off two straight road victories over the Bruins over the course of their 17-game run at TD Garden.

    Here are four players to watch for in tonight’s contest…

  • Jeremy Swayman

    Oct 2, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 2, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

    Saturday will be a Swayday for the Bruins, with Jeremy Swayman set for his first start of the season.

    Internally, and assuming health, the Bruins are projecting another near 50-50 split for Swayman and Linus Ullmark in 2023-24. That’s the appropriate split when talking about the best tandem in hockey. But this is an absolutely gigantic year for Swayman. On a one-year deal awarded to him in arbitration, Swayman will need to build off last year’s strong finish, which left Swayman with a 24-6-4 record and .920 save percentage. His 24 wins were the 15th-most in hockey, while his .920 ranked fourth among qualifying goaltenders.

    The Bruins are aware of the calculated risk of not signing Swayman to a multi-year deal this past summer, and it’s on Swayman to make ’em pay.

    But this should be a great starting point for the Alaskan-born netminder, all things considered, as he comes into this game with two wins in two career head-to-heads against the Predators. The 24-year-old Swayman has actually shut the Preds out completely in those two career meetings, with 70 saves on 70 shots faced.

  • Matt Poitras

    Oct 11, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Matthew Poitras (51) makes a pass against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 11, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Matthew Poitras (51) makes a pass against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    Game one of the nine-game trial for Matt Poitras went about as well as the Bruins could have hoped. In addition to his assist on Trent Frederic’s first-period marker, Poitras put himself for some prime scoring opportunities, and finished his night with wins in five of his seven battles at the dot.

    But Poitras is going to have to keep it going to stick with this group and avoid a return to Guelph. And the Predators are going to present a much different set of challenges than Chicago.

    In a still-too-young-to-know-anything season, the Predators do rank in the top 10 in hits per game, and are top 10 in takeaways per game. The Predators also have two of the better faceoff men in the league on their roster between Ryan O’Reilly and Colton Sissons. This is just another test for the 19-year-old Poitras, of course, but this is one where we could learn a lot about how truly ready he is for the NHL.

  • Ryan O’Reilly

    Oct 12, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan O'Reilly (90) skates in for a face off during the first period against the Seattle Kraken at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 12, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan O’Reilly (90) skates in for a face off during the first period against the Seattle Kraken at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

    There’s a new top-line center in Nashville and his name alone can send shivers down the spine of any Bruins fans within earshot: Ryan O’Reilly.

    On the board with a goal and an assist through two games with the Preds, O’Reilly can be the face of what the Preds are building in Nashville, and his lead-by-example attitude can go a long way.

    “Well, he’s gonna bring leadership and he’s a consummate professional,” Montgomery, who coached O’Reilly during his stint in St. Louis, said. “He’s someone that really his habits and details, and his work ethic are incredible. So he’s going to be someone that really allows the young players to watch a really good role model.”

    The 32-year-old has six goal and 13 points in 23 career games against the Bruins.

  • Charlie McAvoy

    Oct 5, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 5, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)

    Opening Night was led by a takeover effort from Brandon Carlo and Hampus Lindholm, so now comes seeing if the Bruins’ top paring of Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy can follow their effort with a takeover of their own.

    And, honestly, it almost feels like they should given how quiet they were (by their standards) in Wednesday’s win and their past results as the Black and Gold’s supercharged offensive pairing.

    “I think we just read off each other really well,” Grzelcyk said of the chemistry between he and McAvoy. “We both like to join the attack and be good in transition. I think when we’re really humming where we sort of have that one-in, one-out, and we’re working in tandem really well and I think that’s something we’ve built over time. You know, it started in college and then kind of continued on. So just to know each other’s tendencies and what we like to do on the ice, I think that’s a huge advantage for us.”

    McAvoy has two goals and nine points in nine career games against Nashville.

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