Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins coaching staff got their first look at their hockey club Sunday night against the Washington Capitals.
Jeremy Swayman checked in with a solid first impression, stopping 19 out of 20 shots in the course of half an hour of work. The election in the first round in 2021 showed Fabian Lysell glimpses of his potential on an exciting line with other leads Alex Steen and Jakub Lauko.
Jake DeBrusk and Erik Haula, a potential opening night trio with Nick Foligno, showcased first chemistry on Boston’s actual top line in the evening. The former noted the shootout winner to end a 3-2 Bruins victory. The often injured John Moore, who looked after for the first time in seven months, chopped assists on each of those two talies.
Cassidy and company dress up for preseason action every other night from now until October 6th. Here’s what we learned from the first of their six exhibition tiles.
‘Good positive signs’ for DeBrusk
The Edmonton-born striker is embarking on a central campaign 2021-22 after the worst season of his career. Injuries, a COVID diagnosis and inconsistent efforts led to DeBrusk jumping around the ranks. At times, he found himself inside Cassidy’s dog house, which led to several healthy scratches under the 56-game slate.
DeBrusk and Cassidy participated in a healthy discussion during the low season. The Bruins need their first-round pick in 2015 to get more engaged and deliver timely secondary scoring.
In a slightly choppy preseason incline, DeBrusk put in a solid work effort and created more scoring chances with his eager puck pursuit in front of the Caps net. He parked himself more often than not in front of the Caps net and earned a greasy goal in the opening frame. DeBrusk ended his evening with an explosion on the top shelf in the third round of the shootout.
“I think for him that when he produces, he always feels better about himself. He is around the puck, ”Cassidy said of DeBrusk’s efforts on Sunday. “The way he scored and went online, I think those are good, positive signs for him. He has been with Haula in training camp. They really seemed to stick together again today. It’s a good thing for us if they can play well together and find some chemistry. ”
Of course, a pre-season match does not predict a player’s season. For the most part, veterans use the exhibition slate to re-climb to the pace of the game after a few months off the field.
But DeBrusk, if anyone, needed to start the preseason on a high note.
“Whenever the puck goes into the net, it’s always nice,” DeBrusk said. “It’s just the preseason, but it’s nice to help the team win.”
Lysell looked confident in his first North American game
If his development progresses accordingly, Lysell will fit into the big club within the next year or two. The talented Swede, who was selected 21st overall in this summer’s draft, is likely to head to Vancouver in the WHL to begin his North American career.
This trend continued on Sunday as Lysell hardly looked out of place during his first taste of North American hockey. Behind his cunning playmaking skill, the 18-year-old fired three shots on the net — matching a team high with DeBrusk — on an exciting line with other leads Lauko and Steen and even found himself in the middle of a scrum late in the second period.
“He was around the puck, pulling it out into the room when he needed it. Attacked the front of the net, pushing back when he should. Made a damn game on the wall late to get it to the middle for a scoring chance, ”Cassidy said of Lysell. “So he did many things well. Attacked, did not look confused, strong on his skates. Many good things for his first match. I thought he did a really good job. ”
Moore ‘feels great’ after rehab
Exactly seven months went from Moore’s last game in New York against Rangers to Sunday’s opening of the preseason. The veteran blue-liner underwent hip surgery with a 5-6 month recovery time back in March.
After rehab, Moore entered the training camp without any restrictions on his workload. Cassidy wasted no time trotting Moore out on Sunday, beating him to the top pair with Jakub Zboril. Moore delivered timely assists to Boston lamps from DeBrusk and Haula, delivering a couple of solid hits and blocking a couple of shots in 21:21 ice time, including a team-high 4:01 of shorthand time on ice.
Aside from shaking off the proverbial rust, Moore felt at home as he laced his skates again.
“I felt great,” Moore said. “Coming from someone really, I was so excited to see my name on the board and get a chance to play. I love hockey. It’s always in the back of your mind when you go through these things – that you may never come back – so I’m just grateful to be out there competing. ”
Moore is on the outside, looking in with the six blue-line spots anything but locked. But Cassidy will no doubt lose Moore as the next defender.
“He’s a guy who’s fighting for playing time this year, so these games are important to him,” Cassidy said of Moore. “He missed time, a lot of time, and he is fighting for a place, so these games have greater value. He has been very focused in practice, very businesslike, and that was him again tonight. ”
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