Bruins opening night is getting closer by the day, which means we’re going to get a better look at the roster.
Boston made its first round of cuts earlier this week. While there were no surprises this time around, things will start to get a bit trickier as more cuts are needed.
The Bruins have A.J. Greer fighting for a spot in the lineup and he’s given them every reason to keep him around. Greer potted two goals in Boston’s preseason overtime win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday and dropped the gloves last weekend against the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s brought energy, grit and physicality — something the Bruins were desperately missing last year — to the bottom six.
What’s more, Greer was skating with Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle on Friday during practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second straight day.
“I thought he earned it, and we wanted to see what that would look like,” Montgomery told reporters this week. “The way he played (Tuesday) and the first game, wanted to see what he would look like with Smith and Coyle.”
Trent Frederic normally has occupied that spot, but it appears Jim Montgomery has liked what he’s seen from Greer and is trying to get a better look as another week of camp wraps up. Frederic, along with Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek, could be on the block if Greer continues to impress the way he has.
Jack Studnicka didn’t have his best showing in Boston’s first preseason game, but after a chat with Montgomery, he came out and responded well against New York. Studnicka has been trying to make the team out of camp for the last few seasons now, and he’ll likely start in Providence once again, but he’s certainly giving Montgomery something to think about.
And we can’t forget about Chris Wagner, who spent the entire season last year in the AHL before playing in the regular season finale and seeing time in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
On defense, Anton Stralman has looked strong since signing his PTO agreement with the Bruins last weekend. He played alongside Hampus Lindholm against the Rangers and had 18:30 of ice time. Should the B’s sign Stralman to a one-year deal, Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort would be candidates to start the year in Providence.
All told, the cuts probably will be a bit harder this time around.
Here are a few more notes from this week:
— There still is no contract extension with David Pastrnak, but TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that talks have “heated up” of late.
— David Krejci finally gets his wish and will play alongside Pastrnak this season.
We already know the chemistry the duo has and it’s clear they haven’t missed a beat after Krejci spent last season in his native Czech Republic. The two have been on the second line, along with Taylor Hall, all week. Krejci is enjoying every minute of it.
“Amazing,” Krejci told reporters Wednesday of the chemistry with Pastrnak. “It’s been amazing.”
— Speaking of Krejci, Montgomery is flirting with the idea of having a five-forward power play.
“It’s something we’ve worked on. If we’ve practiced it then I’m sure we?re going to get a look,” Krejci told reporters Wednesday. “I played point before so many times, so I feel comfortable there. Obviously, I haven’t played a game in months, so I’ll just need to get up to speed, but other than that I’m comfortable that I can handle that.”
— The Bruins return to action Saturday for an afternoon tilt with the Flyers. Montgomery said more veterans will see playing time.