Clock's ticking for players on the cusp

BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli & Co. are on the verge of framing their roster for the start of the 2014-2015 NHL season, and there’s still some uncertainty with only two preseason games remaining.

There are still six spots -- four on offense and two on defense -- that remain up for grabs, and the players on the cusp are trying to remain focused in the final weekend of training camp. All team rosters must be set on Wednesday, when the Bruins open the season against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden.

Matt Fraser, Simon Gagne, Craig Cunningham, Jordan Caron and Bobby Robins are all battling for the four spots on offense.

Boston’s blue line is loaded with depth, and decisions are coming -- including the possibility of a trade. Barring any trades, the top two D pairs are set with Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk. The last three spots will be between Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky.

The Bruins will face the New York Islanders on Friday night in Bridgeport, Conn., before hosting the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (5:30 p.m.) at the Garden.

“These will be deciding games here for us to make our last decisions," explained Julien. “For a lot of those players it’s an opportunity to give it a last shot. It’s up to them to show they belong here, or maybe they don’t. We’re going to have to make some cuts and some guys will end up going to Providence and that’s what we’re up against right now.”

Unlike previous training camps during his tenure as coach in Boston, Julien hasn’t had this much uncertainty heading into the regular season.

“Well, lucky for me I’m not alone in having to make those decisions,” he said. “We have group discussions with coaches, and obviously with upper management, and we sit down and share our thoughts on everybody. At the end of the day, a decision has to be made, but I’m not the one who always has to make the last decision, because it entails a lot more than just saying, ‘This is the guy.’ ”

In a salary-cap era, as Julien said, roster decisions are a lot more complex than they used to be. From a pure hockey standpoint, Julien and Chiarelli normally agree on roster decisions.

“We have discussions all the time and there’s a mutual respect,” said Julien. “There are reasons for what we think, and what we like. We’ve never really had a huge argument, and fortunately for me, we see the game a lot the same way. It doesn’t mean we agree all the time, but for the most part we see where each other’s ideas and opinions are coming from.”

Of the remaining players fighting for a roster spot, Warsofsky, Cunningham, Robins and Caron are on the cusp.

Warsofsky spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the P-Bruins, but he was recalled three times by Boston and he played a total of six games for the Bruins.

Warsofsky will likely play the last two preseason games, and hopes to make a positive final impression.

“He carries the puck well and skates with the puck well. He sees the ice very well when it comes to moving it, so he has a lot of good qualities,” Julien said. “Certainly he’s in the mix of things when we look at our Ds with nine of them.”

Warsofsky didn’t have the best start at the beginning of camp, but Julien has noticed progression in the young blueliner’s game.

“In his first week, he looked a little nervous, but he’s come around now and he’s been better lately,” Julien said.

As the final weekend approaches and the regular season is less than a week away, Warsofsky is trying to remained focused.

“Anxious is the best way to describe it,” Warsofsky said. “For me, I just try to take it day-by-day and not worry about what’s going to happen in a week, or when the regular season rolls around, because I just think that stresses me out even more. I’ll just do what I do and see what happens.”

The internal competition has helped Warsofsky maintain his focus.

“It’s probably the best for me because I’m kind of looking up at all of them, not just in size but on the depth chart, too,” he said with a laugh. “When I’ve got guys I’m trying to compete with -- Z might be a Hall of Famer someday and other guys are All-Stars -- it’s definitely a tall task, but I think that pushes me to be better when I see them doing so well.”

Cunningham has played well during camp. The versatile forward can play both center and wing. He was recalled once last season and played two games for the Bruins. He used that experience as motivation to prepare during the offseason in hopes of earning a roster spot.

“Obviously, when you get your foot in the door you see what it takes to play at this level. The more you play, you more you get comfortable,” Cunningham said. “To get those two games last year helps calm your nerves a little bit, and just for you to know that you can play at that level.”

Robins, a 32-year-old career minor-leaguer and UMass-Lowell product, has never played in the NHL. This will be his 10th pro season, fourth in the Bruins organization, and he has a legitimate chance of earning a roster spot. He said he’s in a good place mentally and physically. His relentless style of play fits well and his work ethic is impressive.

If he does earn a spot and finally plays in the NHL, it would be a dream come true for Robins.

“I’d love to get one game, and I’d love to get 300 games,” he said with a smile. “It goes back to the same mentality; come into work every single day and I just know if I do that, believe in myself, I can show the organization and make them believe in me as well and give me that shot.”

The final countdown is on.