The Bruins looked good through two periods Thursday, as they outshot the Senators, 30-10, in the game’s first 40 minutes and were leading, 1-0, thanks to a power play goal. In a time of evaluation, B’s coach Claude Julien didn’t seem too concerned that the scoreboard read 2-1 in Ottawa’s favor by the end of the night.
“Every team has its own agenda and ours is to evaluate players right now,” Julien said after the game. “They certainly cut their bench. They went down to three lines and hardly saw their fourth line guys at all or you just spot them here and there on different lines. … I wasn’t about to do that, not when you’re evaluating players.
“If you’re going to evaluate players you need to play everybody. Evaluating for us was more important than the end result and at the end of the day you still come out of it, even though you lost, it’s not in the standings, but you’re still the better team and tonight we were the better team.”
As long as it's established that the defending Stanley Cup champions are better than the 32-win Senators, everybody’s happy, right?
As far as evaluating went, a few things stood out. Daniel Paille was all over the place, impressing both on the penalty kill early on and with some nice opportunities on his line with Gregory Campbell and Chris Clark.
Then there’s the power play, which went 1-for-6. With Milan Lucic’s first-period goal, that’s now four consecutive preseason games with a goal. It may be coming against kids and fringe-NHL players, but if the B’s can enter the season with the success that evaded their man advantage late last season, there would be very few things not to like about the B's in 2011-12.
Here are four other things we learned Thursday:
KAMPFER TO HAVE MRI FRIDAY
Kampfer looked good Thursday, skating on a pairing with Zdeno Chara and seeing time on the second power play unit (he occasionally spelled Joe Corvo on the first unit as well). His positive bid for the seventh defense spot turned negative very quickly when he went down awkwardly following a hit from Senators defenseman Jared Cowen.
Kampfer suffered a left knee injury on the play. On a positive note, it's good news for those concerned that he may have reinjured his right knee, which kept him out late last season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs. On a more obvious note, the injury may have ended what was a very close race for that seventh spot with Matt Bartkowski.
"I don’t know if it settles it," Julien said of the competition. "We’ll find out tomorrow how severe it is, and is he going to be two months, or is he only going to be a few weeks? If he is then it can still be a battle going on there."
Julien had said Wednesday that both Kampfer and Bartkowski were making the decision on who to keep for the regular season a very hard one. Kampfer certainly had the better game between the two Thursday, but that might be a moot point.
"They’re both pretty good," Julien said. "Actually, I thought Kampfer was having a real good night and skating and moving the puck. Bart is still there. There’s some things that I think he has to continue to work on. He’s got good size, he’s a solid skater, but every once in a while he gets caught with maybe not moving the puck quick enough. Those are just little things that he has to continue to work on, but having said that, I like both their games."
BARTKOWSKI WANTS TO EARN IT
If the battle for the seventh defense spot is now over, it sure would be a shame for it to end this way, especially for a couple of guys as close as the two young blueliners competing for it.
Kampfer and Bartwkoski were roommates in Providence, and have not let their on-ice competition get in the way of their friendships. Bartkowski noted after Thursday's game that this wouldn't be the way he'd like to win that competition.
"He's a friend of mine, so I don't want him to get hurt," Bartkowski said. "I want to earn the spot. I don't want to be on account of someone getting hurt."
Injuries are already part of the game. In fact, if it weren't for injuries, neither Kampfer nor Bartkowski would have played in the NHL last season. Now, with hit being less than a week away from the season-opener, the job may end up being Bartkowski's to start the season, depending on what Kampfer's MRI indicates.
"I'll be ready if that time does come," Bartkowski said. "That's the way it works, but it's not a sense of taking [the spot] it any way I can get it like that. I'm definitely ready if something happens."
THOMAS DOESN’T NEED SHOTS TO GET READY
Julien said after the game that Thomas would be the starter for the final preseason game, which is to be played Saturday night in Bridgeport, CT. Perhaps the Islanders can put a lot of shots on the reigning Vezina winner then.
Through two preseason games, Thomas has faced just 36 shots (16 against the Islanders and 20 on Thursday). The Senators, who cut down their bench in the third period, applied more pressure in the final 20 minutes Thursday than Thomas has generally season this preseason.
One would think that a goaltender would rather face a ton of shots in the preseason to prepare him for a faster, more competitive regular season. Thomas revealed after the game that he has a different line of thinking, as simply being on the ice in game situations prepare him for the times in which he might not be facing a ton of shots.
“It’s good to get experience for both ways, because it’s going to happen at times,” Thomas said of the down time (10 shots through the first two periods) and facing more shots. “Even when there’s not shots, you still get your practice out of games because you’re still moving and you’re still fighting through traffic to see the, to follow the pass and stuff like that.
“When you’re not getting a lot of shots you focus on some of the other stuff, so in a way it can be better because when you’re getting a ton of shots you don’t have time to worry about any technique.”
MCQUAID WEARS THE ‘A’
The Bruins have treated the second ‘A’ as a temporary tattoo this preseason, passing Mark Recchi’s vacated letter around their dressing room, with the letter showing up on each recipients sweater for just a game at a time. Thus far, legitimate candidates for the letter (Andrew Ference) and others (Gregory Campbell) have gotten to serve as alternate captain for a game.
Thursday, it was Adam McQuaid’s turn.
“A lot of players have had it there in preseason so tonight and looking at the guys that had it and the guys that hadn’t, I thought he was a good candidate for that,” Julien said. “I think he’s well respected from his teammates and he’s a guy that competes hard every night and he’s a hard, honest player and I thought he was deserving of wearing it.”
McQuaid began last year as the seventh defenseman before stepping in for an injured Johnny Boychuk and forcing the B’s to keep him in the lineup for most of the season. His plus-30 rating was tied for third-best in the NHL.