The Bruins enjoyed a 4-3 shootout win over the Rangers in Thursday night’s preseason contest at TD Garden. Here are some observations from what a more-entertaining-than-usual preseason game.

– There’€™s no word yet on what the upper-body injury Zdeno Chara suffered is, but there’€™s a good chance it occurred on the hit he took from Ryan Bourque. As previously noted, Chara appeared to be OK after the hit, so perhaps he was taken out for precautionary reasons. The Bruins had better hope that’€™s the case, as they’€™re already without Dennis Seidenberg.

If Chara is to be out for any stretch of time in the regular season, the Bruins will be without their four-best defensemen from last season’€™s camp ‘€” Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk and Seidenberg.

There was another scare on Boston’€™s defense when Joe Morrow blocked a shot and limped off the ice late in regulation, but he would return to the game.

– Jeremy Smith played the entire game for the Bruins, and there’€™s no better test for someone trying to prove they can hack it in the NHL than going up against a good lineup (the Rangers had Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Keith Yandle and Ryan McDonagh, among others, in the lineup Thursday) without Zdeno Chara in front of you.

Smith allowed three goals, two of which were power play tallies. The lone even-strength goal he allowed came on a Rangers rush during a Boston line change. Smith made the initial save on Brady Skjei’€™s shot but had it bounce off his back and in. He then allowed a Mats Zuccarello power play goal later in the period and saw a second-period Kevin Hayes shot go off him and in for New York’€™s second tally on the man advantage.

The 26-year-old netminder had some bright spots as well, stopping Kevin Hayes in the slot on a second-period Rangers power play and then robbing him with a glove save in the third.

– Smith stopped Hayes and Keith Yandle and John Gibbons in the shootout, though he allowed shootout goals to Mats Zuccarello and Dan Boyle. Ryan Bourque hit the post.

Boston got goals from Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Brad Marchand.

– Zac Rinaldo swears he’€™s better than he gets credit for, and based on two preseason games, he may have a case. The numbers through two games: one assist, zero penalty minutes and a whopping four drawn penalties.

Rinaldo picked up an assist on Tyler Randell’€™s first-period goal, capping a strong shift by feeding the puck to Joe Morrow at the point, with Morrow’€™s shot being redirected by Randell past Henrik Lundqvist.

The former Flyer drew a period in the second period when he got Ryan McDonagh to break his stick on a slash. In the third period, Rinaldo threw a big (albeit clean) hit on Tommy Hughes in the neutral zone. He was then jumped by Tanner Glass, but Rinaldo kept his gloves on, with Glass being given a roughing minor for the exchange.

Perhaps most surprisingly (and most amusing): Rinaldo tried to show off his hands with a between-the-legs bid off the rush in the second period.

– Speaking of drawing penalties, Ryan Spooner’€™s line with Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly drew a pair on Thursday. Spooner drew a tripping penalty in the first period, while Connolly was slashed by Keith Yandle in the second.

It was a point apiece for the Hayes brothers, as Jimmy capped a very strong shift by picking up the secondary helper on a third-period Brandon Carlo goal.

– With the Bruins trailing in the final minute of regulation, Spooner scored as the extra attacker skating with Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line. Bergeron skated with Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson Thursday night, an indication that Eriksson could at long last wind up being Bergeron’€™s right wing.

– Joonas Kemppainen continues to impress. He set up the rush on which Rinaldo got fancy by forcing a turnover at the Bruins’€™ blueline and taking it the other way.

– Matt Irwin took a penalty during the 3-on-3 overtime, meaning the Rangers got to add a player to the ice rather than the Bruins losing one. Bergeron, Morrow and Adam McQuaid made up Boston’s three-man penalty kill unit. Smith made a number of big saves before the power play was ended by a Rangers too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

– The Bruins had to mix and match on defense once Chara went down early, but Joe Morrow and Colin Miller skating together was an interesting sight. Such a pairing goes for broke offensively but would likely give Claude Julien anxiety in the defensive zone.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s preseason game against the Rangers with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left Thursday’€™s preseason game against the Rangers with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.

Chara played just three shifts, the last of which ended at 4:12 of the first, before leaving the game. He took a hit from Rangers forward Ryan Bourque on his final shift, with Chara being thrown into the boards as a result. He appeared to be carrying himself fine after the hit, however.

Thursday marked Chara’€™s first game of the preseason. The 38-year-old is looking to have a healthy season after missing 19 games due to a torn PCL last season.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins made another round of cuts Thursday, with 2015 15th overall pick Zach Senyshyn among them.

Colby Cave and Colton Hargrove were both assigned to Providence, while Andrew Cherniwchan, Max Everson, Matt Ginn, Max Iafrate, Eric Neiley and Frankie Simonelli will all attend Providence’€™s camp, which opens on Sunday. Senyshyn will head back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, while Jeremy Lauzon will return to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

With Thursday’€™s cuts, the Bruins now have 48 healthy players left in camp.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins will play their third game of the preseason when they host the Rangers Thursday at TD Garden. Jeremy Smith and Zane McIntyre will share goaltending duties, while Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand are among those playing in their first game of the preseason.

Bergeron and Marchand will play with Loui Eriksson at right wing Thursday. The first-line duo has skated with both Eriksson and David Pastrnak on the right side thus far in camp. Pastrnak played on David Krejci‘€™s line with Matt Beleskey in Tuesday’€™s preseason game against the Capitals. Pastrnak, Krejci and Beleskey will all have Thursday off.

Ryan Spooner’€™s line with Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly will also play together Thursday. Claude Julien has kept the three together since the start of camp, as he would like to use the three in the regular season if the three mesh well.

Kevin Hayes, the younger brother of Jimmy, will be in New York’€™s lineup Thursday. Kevin, a former first-rounder of the Blackhawks, is coming off a very strong rookie season with the Rangers. A Boston College product like Jimmy, Kevin scored 17 goals and added 28 assists for a 45-point campaign with the Rangers.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins made two cuts Wednesday, releasing a pair of 2015 draft picks from training camp.

Forward Jesse Gabrielle, a fifth-round pick in June, will head back to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, while goaltender Daniel Vladar will return to the Chicago Steel of the USHL. The Bruins selected Vladar in the third round (No. 75 overall).

With Wednesday’€™s moves, the Bruins now have 56 players left in camp.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 1.48.36 PMDennis Seidenberg‘€™s injury leaves the Bruins with multiple questions regarding their defense. Here’€™s a big one: Who’€™s going to kill penalties?

Because Zdeno Chara missed 19 games, Dennis Seidenberg led the Bruins in shorthanded time on ice (209:54). His average of 2:33 per game on the penalty kill ranked third among Bruins defensemen.

With Seidenberg now out for the next eight weeks, the Bruins are down an experienced penalty killer, and they weren’€™t exactly overflowing with them to begin with. Of Boston’€™s defensemen last season, Seidenberg was one of five to average even one minute of shorthanded time on ice per game. Another one of those players is gone in Dougie Hamilton (1:10 of shorthanded time on ice per game). Given that free agent signing Matt Irwin and trade acquisition Colin Miller are both offensive defensemen who haven’€™t killed a lot of penalties, the only players the B’€™s have on the back end who were regular penalty killers in the NHL last season are Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.

Two of those players are righties, so with Boston’€™s current group it’€™s very possible that the B’€™s may need to slide righty penalty killers to the left. That’€™s rare for defensemen, as right-shot defensemen usually can’€™t play both sides the way that lefties can. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman have done it before (both in the AHL, though Miller would play the left side in 2013-14 when killing penalties with Johnny Boychuk), so that may increase their value in Claude Julien‘€™s eyes.

Julien said Wednesday that he may change his defensive group from game to game depending on whether he’€™d like to load up on power play guys or experienced penalty killers. That could make the difference regarding which Miller (Kevan a penalty killer, Colin a strong skater with a tremendous slap shot) plays and sits.

“When the time comes, we’€™ll look at our lineup and what is best for us at that time,” Julien said. “If we need a more offensive kind of defenseman or a guy that can kill, it depends. I always say the same thing: When you play some big teams, sometimes you need some weight out there. Sometimes [you play] a not-so-heavy team, so you can afford to have a little bit more of a lighter back end that can move the puck well also. It’€™s about balancing the killers and the power play guys, so we’€™ll look at that.’€

From Irwin to Morrow to Colin Miller, Boston’€™s defensemen lacking in NHL penalty killing experience said they’€™re confident they can do it. The logic is simple: Somebody who hasn’€™t played a ton of PK time is going to have to do it, so it might as well be them. Plus, with all three of them being power play options, being able to do both would help them hold a job in Boston’€™s lineup.

“I definitely embrace the opportunity to kill penalties,” Morrow said. “Penalty kill, power play, anything. Any situation, you always want to be on the ice for. It’€™s more enjoyable when they put a little more [responsibility] on you.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

Shortly after Don Sweeney chose against signing a relatively low-cost veteran defenseman late in the offseason, he said that while he had faith in his young defensemen, he would continue to monitor options to improve the team. That’€™s GM speak for “maybe I’€™ll do something, maybe I won’€™t.”

While Seidenberg’€™s absence leaves the Bruins without a veteran defenseman (28-year-old Adam McQuaid is now the team’€™s oldest healthy defenseman not named Zdeno Chara), it does not necessarily make them worse. The Bruins hoped Seidenberg would be better than he was last season, but they didn’€™t know that.

As such, Sweeney now can potentially let all of Boston’€™s healthy NHL-caliber defensemen (of which there are eight — Chara, McQuaid, Torey Krug, Zach Trotman, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller) make the team and let the cream rise to the top. He can also go out and trade for cream (this has gotten confusing), which could potentially leave the Bruins with an even bigger logjam of good-not-great defensemen once Seidenberg returns in two months.

“It’€™s a void that internally we’€™re trying to assess,” Sweeney said Wednesday, “and as I’€™ve always said, I’€™ll continue to talk to the other teams and people that may or may not be available to see if we need to fill that void.”

Sweeney said that he would potentially swing a deal for a defender. ‘€œonly under the right circumstances.’€

“It’€™s got to be the right fit for us relative to the guys that we have and have been assessing overall,” he said. “We felt that we had very good depth, albeit some of it inexperienced, but now they’€™re getting an opportunity. Hopefully now they can take advantage of it.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Dennis Seidenberg will miss the next eight weeks due to back surgery. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Dennis Seidenberg will miss the next eight weeks due to back surgery. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The last time Dennis Seidenberg got hurt back in December of 2013, the best team in the Eastern Conference had to find someone to inherit Boston’€™s second-best defenseman’€™s minutes. This time around, things aren’€™t so cut-and-dry.

The Bruins announced Wednesday that Seidenberg, who has not taken the ice at all this training camp, would undergo back surgery Thursday and miss the next eight weeks. His absence for the next two months solves one problem and creates another.

Not having Seidenberg provides some clarity as it relates to the numbers game on Boston’s defense. The problem is that it does so by subtracting one of the only guys with ample experience as one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted defenders.

An issue for the Bruins entering camp is that they had too many defensemen, but not enough top-four blueliners. Though Seidenberg was coming off a bad season, the Dougie Hamilton trade left Zdeno Chara and Seidenberg as the only B’s with extensive top-four experience (Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have taken on bigger roles at times over the last two seasons, but they’€™ve generally been reserved for playing against bottom-sixers). That the Bruins will go until Thanksgiving with three of their top-four defensemen treading relatively uncharted waters is concerning, but then again there was no guarantee that Seidenberg would have earned a top role over those guys anyway.

Seidenberg’s injury provides an opportunity Krug, who will get his wish of being a top-four guy. Because right shot defensemen (of which the B’s have many) can’t play the left side, having a lefty to anchor the second pairing behind Chara is crucial. Seidenberg was a prime candidate if he was healthy and anything resembling his old self.

Now, the candidates are Krug, Matt Irwin and Joe Morrow. The guess here is that Krug leads the second pairing with McQuaid on the right, with Irwin playing on the third pairing with either Kevan Miller or Colin Miller. While Colin Miller has more offensive upside than Kevan Miller, the absence left by Seidenberg on the penalty kill (Seidenberg led all Bruins players in shorthanded time on ice last season) could very well require to put Kevan Miller in the lineup over him.

Julien is no stranger to mixing and matching on the back end, of course, and its very possible that the B’€™s put eight D on their roster to begin the season and tinker from game to game. Certain pairings can be used against either top lines or bottom-six forwards depending on the opponent.

That’s where not having Seidenberg will be felt. For as much as Seidenberg may have fallen off last season, Julien has never lacked confidence in playing him against tough competition. As illustrated in the War-on-Ice usage chart below, the only Bruins defenders who faced tougher competition than Seidenberg last season were Chara and Dougie Hamilton.

BruinsD 201415

Of course, Seidenberg struggled against that competition, as evidenced by a 48.16 even-strength Corsi percentage that ranked dead last among the 10 defensemen to lace up for the Bruins last season. Asked at one point why a pairing of Seidenberg and a struggling Matt Bartkowski was so ineffective, Julien hinted that perhaps folks blaming Bartkowski were looking at the wrong guy. Still, if the crud hit the fan early this season, it’€™s probably fair to assume Julien would have leaned more on Chara and Seidenberg because, a la Grady Little with Pedro Martinez, coaches can go overboard with trusting the guys with whom they’€™ve had success.

Last offseason, there was reason for major optimism on Boston’s blueline. Chara was coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Seidenberg was recovered from his 2013 torn ACL, Hamilton was going to have a Big Year’„¢ and Johnny Boychuk, if kept, was going to push for the best performance of his career in an effort to earn a fat contract in free agency. With Boychuk traded, Chara injured and Seidenberg struggling, Hamilton became the lone bright spot in Boston’s top four. Now he’s gone and Boston’s defense is as suspect as it’s been in years. For all the flak that Seidenberg gets for last season’s struggles, his absence may very well exacerbate the issue.

When the Bruins opted against signing Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff or Marek Zidlicky, it was clear Don Sweeney was intent on putting his faith in Boston’s young defensemen. Now Julien has to do that, whether he likes it or not.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will have surgery on his back and is expected to be out eight weeks, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Seidenberg is scheduled to undergo a lumbar microdiscectomy on Thursday to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation.