Due to the condensed Bruins training camp schedule, there are some non-regulars and dark horses still playing with the parent club. However, coach Claude Julien was expecting that Thursday's game and Friday's practice will help finalize his roster to start the season and that he'd then be able to use those players in the team's final exhibition at home on Saturday against Columbus.
"It's been a little tougher [than normal] because of the way the schedule has been and the condensed training camp," Julien said prior to boarding a plane for Montreal. "Usually by this time, we're down to about 27 — or even 25, really — and you only have maybe three to four cuts to make. And right now we still have to carry way too many for our comfort. I think, hopefully, maybe by Saturday or at worst after this weekend, we can have the guys we want out there for the start of the season and start fresh.
"Let's be honest here," Julien continued, "there weren't many spots open here, so we're only talking about maybe three or four, give or take two, but if someone were to push someone out, I'd go up to four spots that could be in jeopardy. In that case, you would have a situation that you could evaluate normally. But because of the schedule, you're watching games that could be sloppy and ones where you don't have your whole team together. You'd like to see your team get together to get a feel for what you've got, but we're looking at Saturday at [the earliest] for that."
Julien did admit that there are players who still are on the bubble despite the limited spots, and that he could end up carrying 13 forwards and possibly seven defensemen. So for players like forwards Zach Hamill, Brad Marchand, Vladimir Sobotka and defensemen Johnny Boychuck, Drew Fata and Adam McQuaid, all of whom played Thursday in Montreal, these games are most likely their final chances to impress.
Plenty of regulars played Thursday, too, like goaltender Tim Thomas, and Julien reiterated that he'd like to have a roster full of regulars Saturday. So expect Thomas and presumptive backup Tuukka Rask to be manning the pipes against Columbus.
There was also more good news on David Krejci's ongoing comeback from hip surgery. On Thursday, Krejci had his best practice yet and is cautiously aiming to play in the season opener. The crafty center who gave himself a 10 percent chance of playing in the opener now believes he'll be a game-time decision for next Thursday's tilt with the Capitals.
"I think the chances of me playing are a little better … much better, actually," he said with a smile after practice. "But, you know it's going to be a game day decision. It's going to be really close. The doctors said it was going to be 4-6 months, and next week it'll be four months. So I believe all summer I only took two weeks off when I went back home [to the Czech Republic]. I worked really hard to try and get back into shape. The doctors said it's a good thing I didn't take any days off, and it's made the process faster."
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