The opening to the Boston Bruins’ centennial season was no on-ice masterpiece.
After David Pastrnak’s two goals helped the Bruins grind out a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston will try to keep improving its game on Saturday as it welcomes in the Nashville Predators to complete a season-opening, two-game homestand.
As for the opener, there was some good, some bad. All to be expected.
“I don’t think we played fast enough, consistently enough,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “You expect things to work on after game one. We got the result. We did a lot of good things, I thought, in the third period to build our game, especially playing with the lead.”
While star rookie Connor Bedard stole the show early with his first career goal for Chicago, Bruins rookies Matt Poitras and Johnny Beecher uncapped their own NHL careers as the centers on the team’s third and fourth lines.
“We want to put different people in different situations,” Montgomery said. “We had Poitras and Beecher both take D-zone and O-zone faceoffs. That’s what we want. Throws them right in the fire.”
Poitras not only logged his first NHL point on Trent Frederic’s opening goal but fared well in the faceoff circle, winning five of his seven draws.
There was a lot for the 19-year-old rookie to take in, adding in the fact that greats like Bobby Orr and Johnny Bucyk were in the building after pre-game ceremonies celebrating the franchise’s historic milestone. And there was also a lot to like in his game.
“There weren’t too many nerves. As soon as I got my first shift under my belt, everything kind of faded away,” Poitras said. “I felt like the game was faster (than the preseason). It was definitely harder to hold onto pucks. Just kind of ramped up a bit.”
The Predators are in the early stages of a new era under new GM Barry Trotz and coach Andrew Brunette. They have welcomed in veteran center Ryan O’Reilly and defenseman Luke Schenn, while Ryan Johansen was traded to Colorado and Matt Duchene was signed by Dallas.
“There’s some serial winners out there,” Brunette said.
Thursday’s first victory of the young season — a 3-0 shutout of a reigning playoff team in the Seattle Kraken — was strong from top to bottom.
Juuse Saros stopped all 23 shots he faced while Colton Sissons, Gustav Nyquist and Juuso Parssinen scored, but Brunette was impressed with the other areas of his team’s game as evidenced by 21 blocked shots and 25 hits.
“I thought the sacrifices and the will of our group tonight was pretty impressive, and it has been all of camp,” Brunette said. “You kind of knew it, but tonight to see it live in action — the shot blocking, the relentless pursuit of pucks, all the things we talked about — I thought you could see the signs that it’s coming.”
Of course, the road gets no easier against a Boston team that set NHL records along the way to a Presidents’ Trophy last season, but there is plenty to be excited about.
“I think we should take some confidence — even from some things from the Tampa game, the last two periods, and most of the game (on Thursday),” Sissons said. “Obviously, we’ve got to keep this thing in perspective. It’s one win in a long season and we’ve got a lot of tough opponents coming up in the next week and a half so we’ve got to stay dialed in.”