Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 02: Playing in his first NHL game, Mason Lohrei #6 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at TD Garden on November 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 02: Playing in his first NHL game, Mason Lohrei #6 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at TD Garden on November 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

An assist, a win, an attaboy from your head coach. It’s hard for Mason Lohrei to ask for much more out of his NHL debut.

The 22-year-old defensemen was thrown right into a big leafy fire on Thursday night, getting the start alongside Brandon Carlo against the high-powered Toronto Maple Leafs. Fellow rookie Matt Poitras also got the start. It was a small signal that the post-Patrice Bergeron era might not be the wasteland we thought it could be.

Lohrei certainly looks like he belongs in the NHL, and then some. He registered an assist for his first career point to help the Bruins open the scoring, faking a shot and drawing three defenders before slipping it to Carlo, who found a seam to make the centering pass to Pavel Zacha for the goal.

WATCH: Mason Lohrei Gets First Career Point

Lohrei’s most immediate talent and highest potential come in the offensive zone, where he was most active on Thursday. But he was solid enough across the full 200 feet to earn high praise from head coach Jim Montgomery.

“He was dynamite,” Montgomery said. “He played really well. His poise with the puck, in all three zones, was very noticeable. Made a lot of intelligent hockey plays.”

  • Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) watches a play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) watches a play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Lohrei was used in all situations, even on the penalty kill. He indicated after the game, in probably the biggest media scrum of his life so far, that he grew more confident as the game went on just by virtue of being trusted to continue playing.

    “Yeah, feels great,” Lohrei said. “You get pretty comfortable and, you know, it’s just good for your confidence when they keep calling your number to go back out there. So, felt good.”

    The underlying stats tell a promising story, too. Lohrei had the best on-ice shot attempt percentage at 5-on-5 (57.1 percent) of all Bruins defensemen, while posting 17:34 of ice time in those situations. With Lohrei on the ice at 5-on-5, the Bruins out-shot the Leafs 11-6 and held a 6-0 edge in high-danger chances. He was also third on the team with 1:43 of time on the penalty kill, helping the Bruins smother two Leafs power plays at a crucial time in the second period.

  • Lohrei’s size stood out, which is a good thing, because he’s goddamn 6-foot-5. But it stood out when handling the puck behind his own net, because he faced a lot of tenacious forechecking, and largely held his own, while executing breakouts the way the Bruins like. He certainly fits in that department.

    It is just one game, and Lohrei will inevitably have his share of rookie moments. He got a little too adventurous with the puck during the overtime period, which led to a Toronto rush the other way. But you could also see the offensive potential when he weaved through multiple defenders and fed Zacha for a wide-open scoring chance in the second period.

    Long way to go for Lohrei. But he should be in the Boston lineup for the rest of the time Matt Grzelcyk is out, and it’s likely he warrants strong consideration to stay beyond that after a fine debut.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    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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