Preseason nears end
B’s must be better
It goes without saying that the final score of most NHL exhibition games has about the same value as the outcome of baseball spring training games. Zero. It matters not in the slightest.
So Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t really bothered by his team’s 5-1 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday night. Nor will he be putting too much meaning in tonight’s preseason finale in Chicago against the Blackhawks.
Yes, there may be one or two final roster decisions affected by this game, but the most important goal is to avoid injuries.
“Obviously I didn’t love our game (Thursday),” said Cassidy after practice yesterday at Warrior Ice Arena. “Clearly they were the better team. We put ourselves in a bad spot. I don’t want to be overly critical of some of our younger guys because I thought some of our older guys weren’t great, either. It was just not a good night for some of the guys we rely on.
“I know next week Pasta (David Pastrnak) and Marchie (Brad Marchand) are going to be better players for us. Period.”
The guess here is the Bruins will not dispatch a veteran-filled squad to Chicago. Defenseman Zdeno Chara, for one, will stay home. No. 2 goalie Anton Khudobin, sidelined briefly this week by a lower body injury, will make his second start of this camp.
After the game, the Bruins will presumably get a day off tomorrow, though it will not exactly be fun for the several guys who’ll be cut in the final roster reduction. The B’s then have three days of practice leading to Thursday’s season-opener against the Nashville Predators.
One player who may be on the way out is ex-Yale left winger Kenny Agostino, who was placed on waivers yesterday. If unclaimed, he’d clear at noon today and the team can assign him to Providence, although the 25-year-old has a one-way, $875,000 contract and would be a mighty well paid minor leaguer.
“I think he was as advertised,” said Cassidy of Agostino, who had a goal, two assists and a team-best plus-3 in three games. “He had a little injury there in the middle of camp. We were going to try to move him around with different people and it didn’t work out. From what I did see, he’s a smart player (and) he makes plays.
“(But) we’re looking to upgrade the speed in the lineup, and in that area we have a few people in front of him.”
One of those speediest hopefuls, center Austin Czarnik, had the misfortune of getting sick at a bad time. He’s done well and would have played in Chicago.
“Czarnik is under the weather and has been for a few days, which is unfortunate,” said Cassidy. “He was a guy I thought had a really good camp (two goals, one assist in two games). He was showing a lot of energy, better pop in his stride and he has scored.
“That’s too bad that we didn’t get another look at a guy who had a big taste of it last year.”
Czarnik played 49 games with the B’s last season with five goals and 13 points.
It’s a safe bet the 24-yearold will be a quick recall, if needed.
It was the first full practice for left winger Peter Cehlarik, who had shoulder surgery in May.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Slovak looked pretty good in 11 games with the Bruins last year (two assists). In 49 games at Providence, he had 20 goals and 18 assists.
“He looks like he’s improved his skating (and) he looks stronger,” said Cassidy. “With this injury, unfortunately, we didn’t get a good look at him. We’ve always liked Peter. We won a lot of games with him in the lineup.”
That’s some pretty good recall by Cassidy: The B’s went 8-3-0 last year in Cehlarik’s 11 games . . . .
There were some new looks to the lines yesterday in practice, maybe some indication of who’ll be boarding the plane to Chicago.
Ryan Spooner’s line included wingers Matt Beleskey and Danton Heinen. David Backes was with Frank Vatrano and Sean Kuraly. And Riley Nash’s threesome included Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari.
It seems a reasonable guess those lines will go against the Hawks.
LESS THAN STELLAR: Tuukka Rask allowed four goals in two periods and just 18 shots on Thursday night in Philadelphia, including this one by Wayne Simmonds.