Training camp, for all intents and purposes, is over. The real games begin Saturday for the Bruins as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague, Czech Republic. The Bruins have a familiar look to the roster entering Saturday’s game, however, there are a couple of surprises on that roster.
The first player, who may be deemed a surprise to make the Bruins is, forward Brad Marchand. He could be the biggest benefactor of Marc Savard’s suffering from post concussion symptoms. The swift skating forward appears to be penciled in as a fourth liner whose duties will be to concentrate on the defensive side of the puck. His line will be charged with shutting down the high scoring lines of the teams’ opponents. Marchand surely benefitted from his call up from the Providence Bruins last season. He played in twenty games and put up one assist in a limited role with the big club. Marchand is no stranger to the offensive zone as he scored 248 points in 245 career games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native is on the small side at 5 feet 9 inches, 183lbs but Marchand is a strong skater with good agility and speed and could become a 3rd liner and maybe a 2nd line center in the near future. The carrot is dangling in front of him. It will be interesting to see whether he can grab it while Savard is recovering.
As with Marchand, it is becoming apparent that former Ohio State University defenseman, Matt Bartkowski, is going to start the season with the B’s. Bartkowski became a Bruin on March 3, 2010 via the trade route from the Florida Panthers with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and a 2010 2nd round draft pick and arrived at development camp last July with a reputation as a hard hitting, defensive, blueliner with decent size (6 feet 1 inch, 196 lbs.) He has not disappointed. The twenty-two year old defender does need to continue improving his quickness and foot speed but he moves the puck well to the forwards and makes more good decisions with the puck than bad ones. The Pittsburgh native may be penciled in as the team’s 5th or 6th defenseman meaning he will get restricted ice time but it is widely believed that it takes an NHL defenseman two or three seasons before he develops into a steady player. Bartkowski has the potential to be a dependable NHL defenseman for many years to come. He may not remind anyone of Bobby Orr but he will be the type of player his teammates appreciate and opponents respect.
Both players are “on the bubble” as of this writing but they are clearly in the future plans for the organization.
Viewing Parties are planned for Bruins fans this weekend. Bruins faithful can watch the game with the Bruins Ice Girls this Saturday at 12:00pm at The Fours in Boston. Doors open at 11:00am. Black and Gold nation can return to Boston and catch game 2 vs. Phoenix at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill at 10:00am. The doors will open at 9:30am.
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