Bruins - Bolts preview: Hockey is back

Bruins - Bolts preview: Hockey is back
October 3, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Plenty of firsts for the Bruins on Thursday night as they open up another NHL regular season against a rebuilding Tampa Bay Lightning bunch. Loui Eriksson, Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith and Chad Johnson will all be suiting up for their first games in a Boston Bruins uniform, and other players like Torey Krug will be participating in their first season opener.

It will be a big, excited crowd ready to wash away the memory of Game 6 from last year’s Stanley Cup Final, and there will be plenty of excitable sorts in hockey sweaters on the ice as well. After a month-long dirge through the preseason, the games finally begin to count for the Black and Gold on Thursday night. ‘

Even a player that’s been a staple in the last six season openers for the Bruins still gets a little jump knowing that the 2013-14 NHL season becomes official after 7 p.m. puck drop at TD Garden.

“I’ve done it once or twice before, but it’s still exciting,” said Shawn Thornton. “For somebody like Krug I’m sure there’s going to be a different level of excitement for tonight, but the nerves still get jumping. It’s good to be back and it’s good to get training camp over.

“It’s nice to start playing games that mean something. It’s good to get going.”

It will also be nice for the veterans to get into the rhythm of the NHL season as the games start to pile up, and the Bruins can become to find out just how they’re going to end up being this season.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Jordan Caron struggled through the early portion of the preseason before picking it up in the last few games with a roster spot on the line. The 22-year-old winger potted a goal camped in front of the net in Friday’s preseason finale to help clinch his spot on the team, and will now get a chance to play with Carl Soderberg on the injured list with a sprained ankle. It would be a big confidence builder for the young forward if he can make an impact skating with the third line.

KEY MATCHUP: Marty St. Louis and Steve Stamkos will be looking to get on the power play as much as possible on Thursday night, and it will be up to the Bruins penalty kill unit to keep them off the board. The B’s PK bunch could have a couple of new faces with guys like Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Jordan Caron potentially getting special teams time against the Bolts power play, and they’ll need to be up to the task. The Stamkos one-time hammer from the left face-off circle remains as deadly as it ever was.

STAT TO WATCH: 7-for-33 – the Bruins’ power play during the preseason when they enjoyed a success rate of 21.2 percent, and hope to carry that over into the regular season.

INJURIES: Carl Soderberg (sprained ankle) is on the injured reserve, and has been ruled out for Thursday night’s opener after catching a rut on the ice in Saskatoon. Bobby Robins (knee) is on the injured reserve after hurting himself in the second exhibition game of the season. Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is on the long term injured reserve, and is again expected to miss the entire season.

Brian Lee (knee) and Matt Taormina (upper body) are both on the injured reserve for the Tampa Bay Lightning. .  

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask became the highest paid goaltender in the NHL after signing an eight year deal this summer that will pay him $7 million per season, so he’ll be looking to get off to a strong start against the offensively gifted Lightning team. Anders Lindback gets the start for Tampa Bay based on a strong game against the Bruins last season, and that’s despite a strong training camp from fellow goliath goaltender Ben Bishop. Given the shoddy Tampa defense around the net, it would be a challenge for either one.  

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “I think this community has a high expectation of this hockey team, and I think it has every reason to be confident that this hockey team is in good hands moving forward.” –Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs talking about the expectations entering the NHL regular season.