BOSTON -- The Bruins held their final practice of the preseason Wednesday morning at TD Garden in advance of the regular season opener against the Flyers Thursday night. For the Bruins, it felt good to finally be talking about a game that counts and talking hockey instead of what they did last season and winning the Stanley Cup.
“I think it’s definitely nice to be looking ahead to a real game that counts,” forward Chris Kelly said following practice. “We’re all proud of everything we did last season and obviously we have preseason for a reason, to get back into game shape and shake off the rust, but now it’s time play and buckle down.”
Head coach Claude Julien concurred.
“Our guys are excited to turn the page, move on, and start a new chapter,” Julien said. “That’s the feeling I’m getting from around the dressing room.”
Kelly and his teammates are also excited to get back to the normalcy and routine of a season. Right now that means practicing drills and studying the opponent. That opponent Thursday night at the Garden is a drastically different team than the one they swept in the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Flyers had a complete overhaul after the season, shipping out cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in separate deals. They also signed goaltender Illya Bryzagalov to a nine-year deal in an effort to finally solidify their goaltending, which has been their Achilles’ heel for so long.
“They had some great players that they moved or needed to move for whatever reasons,” said Kelly, who also admitted to being surprised at those moves. “They brought in a great goalie and some other key players in the Richards trade and the Carter trade. Then signing Jaromir Jagr is a pretty big deal and they had a great team before they made those moves. So they’ll be a new team but obviously one team that we’ll need to play our best against.”
“You know what you’re going to get out of him each and every night,” Kelly said. “He is a winner and he’s proven that on every team he’s played for. He’s a leader wherever he goes and we know what he brings to the table. He plays the game hard. He plays the game right and he’s always a physical presence so we have to be ready for that.”
Some notes from this morning:
* Julien told the media no decision has been made on the vacant alternate captain spot left by Mark Recchi’s retirement. He hinted that he could very well rotate that to start the season and maybe even throughout the season.
* Julien said that some final roster decisions have to be made, and it appears the team has already made one with Chris Clark. According to a source close to the situation, the Bruins will not sign Clark.
* With Steven Kampfer injured, Matt Bartkowski will start the season on the NHL roster and could actually get the nod to play in the season opener since Adam McQuaid is still battling the flu. Julien said he is a game time decision for Thursday night. Here’s the lineup from practice Wednesday:
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski