Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 9: Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins prepares for a face-off against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on April 9, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Bruins 4-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Set for their second game in three days, Jim Montgomery and the Bruins are officially into the thick of it when it comes to their 2023 preseason schedule.

The Bruins kicked off their preseason in strong fashion, too, as the club handled the Rangers by a 3-0 final in Sunday’s opener at TD Garden.

It was an effort that saw the Bruins excel in almost every department, really, from the goaltending performance put forth by Brandon Bussi to the team’s center prospects shining, and with the special teams also chipping in with some strong play en route to the victory.

Now it’s off to Buffalo, where the Bruins will square off against the Sabres in an Atlantic Division head-to-head at the KeyBank Center. And in a significant shift from Sunday’s preseason opener against the Rangers, the Bruins are bringing a more NHL-looking roster up to Buffalo, with 11 NHLers from the 2022-23 season set to make the trip.

  • Up front, the Bruins will ice a lineup featuring forwards Johnny Beecher, Jesper Boqvist, Alex Chiasson, John Farinacci, Danton Heinen, Trevor Kuntar, Jakub Lauko, Milan Lucic, Marc McLaughlin, Jayson Megna, Georgii Merkulov, Oskar Steen, and Luke Toporowski.

    This will mark the second preseason game in a row for both Beecher and Megna. And it stands to reason that the Bruins will be keeping a close eye on Beecher’s performance in this game.

    Especially after the 2019 first-round pick finished his 2023 preseason debut with a goal, two hits, two takeaways, and wins in seven of his 11 faceoffs in 15:42 of time on ice in Sunday’s win over the Rangers

    It was the exact kind of game that Beecher needed to have to make the Bruins believe that he can be a viable fourth-line center option for the club, but Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was quick to remind everybody that it was just one game and Beecher needs to keep it rolling if he’s grabbing an NHL job this camp.

    “Yeah, I think [Beecher] had a good game, [but] he needs to continue to show it, right, throughout camp,” Montgomery noted. “I mean, that’s the thing. As camp goes on, it gets harder and the people that rise to the top are the ones that are gonna make it, so it’s a really good start for several players. They got to keep building on it.”

  • Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center John Beecher (19) gathers the loose puck in front of New York Rangers defenseman Ty Emberson (39) and goalie Jonathan Quick (32) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Bruins center John Beecher (19) gathers the loose puck in front of Rangers defenseman Ty Emberson (39) and goalie Jonathan Quick (32) at TD Garden. (Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports)

  • And it’ll be interesting to see if Montgomery and the Bruins plug the 22-year-old Beecher between Lauko and Lucic for this game.

    This trio was together for the start of B’s training camp, and it’s entirely possible that they will be the Black and Gold’s fourth line on Opening Night if Beecher cracks the roster. Beecher has experience playing with Lauko down in Providence (and the duo makes up two of the organization’s fastest skaters, I’d believe), and Lauko has already noted the ‘scary’ presence that Lucic brings to the ice.

    If Beecher puts forth another strong effort, and with these two on his wings, it feels like the conversation of Beecher making the team will gain some serious steam.

  • BOSTON, MA - MARCH 28:   Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins reacts after his first of two goalsin the first period against the New York Rangers at the TD Garden on March 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MARCH 28: Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins reacts after his first of two goals in the first period against the New York Rangers at the TD Garden on March 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    This will also be Boston’s first look at Lucic in a B’s uniform since 2015.

    Lucic is not the same player as he was back then (and he’ll be the first to tell you that), but how the Bruins plan on deploying and utilizing Lucic in 2023-24, especially if he plays with two burners like Beecher and Lauko, remains an intriguing storyline to follow in camp and beyond.

    The belief is that the Bruins are going to ask Lucic to provide them with 10-12 minutes of aggressive play per night and help be a leading voice in a B’s locker room that lost a lot of experience with the retirements of Patrice and David Krejci, along with the offseason departures of Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall.

    Beyond Lucic, this game will also come with the preseason debuts of both Danton Heinen and Alex Chiasson, two players currently with the B’s on pro tryout agreements in search of NHL work for the upcoming season.

  • Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Ian Mitchell (14)  skates against New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 24, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Ian Mitchell (14) skates against New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden. (Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports)

  • On the backend, the Bruins will lean on a blue line featuring Frederic Brunet, Brandon Carlo, Jackson Edward, Matt Grzelcyk, Mason Lohrei, Ryan Mast, and Ian Mitchell.

    Of that group, Mitchell is the only Boston defender who dressed for the team’s preseason opener, with the right-shooting ex-Blackhawk finishing the win with two blocked shots and one shot in 19:14 of acton.

    But the focus in this game will almost certainly be on Mason Lohrei as the 2020 second-round selection suits up for the first NHL action of his career. Montgomery called Lohrei a “pleasant surprise” through the opening week of camp, and while he doesn’t want to put any sort of timeline on Lohrei pushing for an NHL gig, Montgomery did note that if he’ll make the team if it’s deemed that he’s truly ready to play in the NHL.

    It’ll also be nice to see 2021 seventh-round selection Jackson Edward get into action for a game. I’m sure it’s been the case before, obviously, but off the top of my head, it’s hard to remember a recent seventh-round selection of the club getting into a preseason game this soon after being drafted.

  • NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Keyser #85 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on October 03, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – OCTOBER 03: Kyle Keyser #85 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on October 03, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    And in goal, the B’s will bring a one-two punch of Michael DiPietro and Kyle Keyser up to Buffalo for this one. Keyser served as the backup for The Brandon Bussi Show on Sunday night, so it’s almost fair to assume that he’ll get the start — or significant playing time, at the very least — for this contest.

    Both players are battling to be the No. 2 behind Bussi in Providence and the No. 4 goaltender on the organizational depth chart.

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