WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Patrice Bergeron stood on the ice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, holding a stopwatch and yelling out drills.
It was the first of many informal captain's practices for Bruins players, prospects and other local NHL players before training camps officially begin later this month. Bergeron led a large group of players, including teammates Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Daniel Paille, Adam McQuaid and Chris Kelly, who participated in the hour-and-a-half session.
It was a long summer for the Bruins after they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the players already are focused on training camp and the start of the 2014-15 season.
"Every time you don't achieve the ultimate goal, you have to prove something all over again," Bergeron said. "It's definitely on our minds this year.
"You have to start all over, start in training camp, have a good camp and have a good, strong start to the season and go from there. You definitely can't look past that, but still we're definitely looking forward to the season and we all know we're going to have to bring more because all the teams are getting better."
It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Bruins, who were restricted by the salary cap. Other than not re-signing unrestricted free agents Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton (who skated with his former teammates on Tuesday wearing his new Florida Panthers practice sweater), the Bruins' roster remains pretty much the same as last season.
General manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien expect strong competition during training camp for the only two vacant forward positions. Since the majority of the roster remains intact, Bergeron is confident the Bruins will remain a Stanley Cup contender.
"Very optimistic," he said. "We have the same core and I've been saying that a lot the past six, seven years now. It's great to have. It's great to see. It tells a lot that Peter and his guys want to keep that intact, so it makes us want to work even harder to keep it. The new guys coming in, the young guys coming in, I think there's a great balance between all of that and I'm excited and looking forward to it."
While the lineup will look different when camp begins, one thing that will remain the same is the second line of Bergeron in the middle with Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith on the wings. Chiarelli and Julien both have said this offseason it's the one line they don't anticipate changing.
"It's great," Bergeron said. "We had some great chemistry by the end of the season and into the playoffs. Obviously, we would have liked to have done more as a team and as a line in the playoffs, but still, I thought our chemistry was there.
"I'm excited and happy that if it does happen, the three of us playing again, it's nice to have that chemistry already established. We can go into training camp knowing how it's going to be like and how guys will react on the ice."
It's been a typical offseason for Bergeron.
He spent a little time off resting and recharging, but once he began his summer routine, it was back to power skating, agility work and even some shooting lessons, focusing on improving his one-timers.
"I've said all along that I want to get better and improve, and I think that's something I've tried to work on is my shot, my quick release," he said. "[Defensemen] and even forwards from other teams are so fast and so quick on back pressure you have to get your shot off quicker."
Bergeron scored 30 goals and added 32 assists in 80 games last season. He won the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward and finished with a plus-38 rating. Oh, and he won a gold medal with Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
His point production for the Bruins was critical in helping the team win the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best regular-season team. In typical Bergeron fashion, though, he would rather help keep the puck out of Rask's net than score at the other end, so he's not thinking about another 30-goal season.
"I don't want to set goals like that," Bergeron said. "Like I've said before, it's all about helping the team. I know offense is part of my game, but it's also about the two-way game again."