Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 11: Trent Frederic #11 of the Boston Bruins, right, celebrates with Matthew Poitras #51 and Brandon Carlo #25 after scoring a goal during the first period of the Bruins home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden on October 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are off to a solid start in the 2023-24 season, and in part they can thank a group of young forwards making a strong first impression on the ice.

Making the most immediate impact was 19-year-old Matt Poitras, who in his first career game showed the same impressive poise with the puck that he showed in the preseason. Poitras mainly played third-line center with Trent Frederic and newcomer Morgan Geekie, and it paid off with the rookie’s first career point in the first period.

Taking a nice neutral zone pass from Geekie in stride, Poitras stopped and turned by the half boards and threaded the puck cross-ice to Brandon Carlo at the point. He and Frederic did the rest on the deflection goal, the Bruins’ first of the season.

Poitras may be 19, but he looks like a veteran when he’s handling the puck, and has a clear knack for slithering his way to the net-front area. He had a high-danger scoring chance of his own when he corralled a fluttering puck and very nearly backhanded it home. His poise has been impressive, and a big reason why he may stick around in the NHL sooner and longer than expected.

  • “There weren’t too many nerves,” Poitras said on his debut. “As soon as I got kind of that first shift under my belt, everything kind of faded away.”

    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. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Bruins are really going to have a tough decision to make with Poitras after nine games, when they will have to choose whether he sticks in Boston or returns to the Guelph Storm in the OHL. If he keeps playing like he did on Wednesday night, he’ll have a strong case to be here to stay.

    “It’s crazy he’s 19,” Frederic said. “He’s not necessarily a big guy, but he plays like he’s a lot older, so that’s really cool to see.”

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 11: Johnny Beecher #19 of the Boston Bruins fights with Jason Dickinson #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period of the Bruins home opener at TD Garden on October 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Blackhawks 3-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 11: Johnny Beecher #19 of the Boston Bruins fights with Jason Dickinson #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period of the Bruins home opener at TD Garden on October 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Blackhawks 3-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Also delivering a solid NHL debut was 2019 first-round pick Johnny Beecher, who played 10:40 as primarily the Bruins’ fourth-line center. He generated one individual high-danger scoring chance, per Natural Stat Trick.

    Beecher brings a good combination of size and speed to the ice. Combined with fellow gritty speedster Jakub Lauko, the Bruins have a tenacious forechecking duo on the bottom line. Beecher also won 54.4 percent of his faceoffs, and the Bruins had an excellent 11-5 shot attempt advantage (68.8 percent) with Beecher on the ice at five-on-five. Montgomery was impressed with Beecher after purposely putting him in challenging spots, particularly on faceoffs, an area where the B’s are going to mix up their personnel.

    “They did a really good job,” Montgomery said after the game. “It is going to be a little bit by committee. We want to put different people in different situations. We had Poitras and Beecher both take D-zone and O-zone faceoffs. That’s what we want, to throw them in the fire.”

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 11: Connor Murphy #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks checks Johnny Beecher #19 of the Boston Bruins into the boards during the first period of the Bruins home opener at TD Garden on October 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 11: Connor Murphy #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks checks Johnny Beecher #19 of the Boston Bruins into the boards during the first period of the Bruins home opener at TD Garden on October 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Not to mention, Beecher answered the bell after a boarding penalty and dropped the gloves with the Blackhawks’ Jason Dickinson. The latter was charged with a minor-major-misconduct for instigating the fight, but Beecher held his own.

    Linemate Milan Lucic sounds like he wants to show the kid the ropes, though.

    “Beecher could use a little work,” a cheeky Lucic said after the game. “I’ll give him some pointers. But good to see him stick up for himself.

  • Obviously, the Bruins have a long way to go. The Blackhawks are not strong competition, despite having wunderkind No. 1 pick Connor Bedard, who scored his first career goal Wednesday night. Poitras is 5-foot-11 and (at most) 180 pounds, and will need to prove he can withstand the physical toll of the NHL game while gaining his first pro experience on the fly.

    But it was certainly a nice start for the kids. They might be alright.


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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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