Bruins Notes: Charlie Coyle Delivers In First Game Back Despite OT Loss

Coyle had two points in his first game back after knee surgery

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In Wednesday’s preseason game between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, all eyes were on Charlie Coyle.

The Bruins center was set to take the ice in a game for the first time this preseason, which would signal his full return from offseason knee surgery. Coyle said in August that he was “doing great,” and Wednesday’s game — which the Bruins lost 4-3 in overtime — was the proof everyone needed.

Coyle scored the first Bruins goal, getting Boston on the board at 7:28 of the first period.

“It does feel good to get one and of course help my team get the lead along with the other guys who helped,” Coyle said on NESN’s in-game coverage at the first intermission. “You just try and do the right things out there and I think we do that. We’ll get more chances and we’ll just be playing the right way.”

He also logged an assist on Taylor Hall’s goal in the second period. Overall, he finished with three shots on goal and a plus-two rating.

Prior to the game, head coach Bruce Cassidy said he would be watching Coyle carefully, and not just because of his health. The Bruins have a hole to fill on their second line with David Krejci headed back home to the Czech Republic, and Coyle has acknowledged he’ll have to fight to earn the spot.

Cassidy said Coyle’s showing was “a good start” after the game, according to Scott McLaughlin of WEEI.

And hopefully it’s just that — a start. Because if he can keep up the energy he showed Wednesday, this could be the bounce-back season Coyle needs.

Here are other notes from Wednesday’s Bruins-Capitals game:

— This may have been a preseason game, but the lineup may lead you to believe otherwise. Boston skated a roster that easily could have passed for its Opening Night group.

— Linus Ullmark was between the pipes for the entirety of this one, and he pretty much was fighting for the starting job. In his last outing, which came Saturday against the New York Rangers, the newcomer saved 15 of 19 shots faced but gave up the equalizer and could have been credited with the assist on the Rangers’ overtime winner.

Meanwhile, second-year Jeremy Swayman impressed Cassidy on Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers, when he stopped 34 of 36 shots as the Bruins fell 2-1 in overtime. One key difference between the pair of overtime losses was that Ullmark had the Bruins regulars in front of him, while Swayman was without the team’s typical defensive pairings.

On Wednesday, Ullmark finished with 26 saves in regulation.

“There were some pucks that found their way through him, which isn’t great for a big man,” Cassidy said postgame, per Joe Haggerty of Boston Hockey Now. “But we weren’t always great in front of him tonight either. I think he was better (tonight) but he needs some more reps.”

While there’s still 10 days before the season opener, it’s hard to imagine why Swayman wouldn’t be named the Opening Night starter over the veteran — even if Ullmark is confident he’ll be able to perform at the necessary level.

“I am certain I am ready to go for when the season starts,” he said postgame, via Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal.

— Charlie McAvoy said Tuesday he would be honored to be named an alternate captain, a role that they Bruins are trying to fill next to Brad Marchand upon Krejci’s departure. David Pastrnak donned the “A” on his sweater in Wednesday’s game.

— The next one counts. The Bruins will open the regular season Oct. 16 at home against the Dallas Stars.

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