PROVIDENCE — It was all blue skies and sunshine downtown on Sunday as the Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour made its annual stop at a packed Alex and Ani City Center.
And the weather was nice, too.
With the Bruins coming off a 50-win regular season, optimism was the order of the day as fans by the hundreds bought team gear, got autographs and had pictures taken with coach Bruce Cassidy, newly signed winger Chris Wagner, NESN play-by-play man Jack Edwards, and Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach.
“I think everyone believes, as we do in-house, that we can win a Stanley Cup. That’s our goal,’’ said Cassidy, who spent eight seasons as assistant coach and head coach of the P-Bruins before being promoted to Boston.
The positive vibe is understandable. A year ago, the Bruins supplemented their veteran core with youngsters Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk and received a terrific payoff.
“We were able to do that and our older guys were able to pull them along. Going into this year, there’s a little bit of that, still. There’s a couple of spots open,’’ said Cassidy, whose team lost Riley Nash and Tim Schaller to free agency.
“We’ve left a little bit of competition open up front. I put (Ryan) Donato in that group with (Anders) Bjork, JFK (Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson), (Trent) Frederic. Then guys that aren’t being talked about as much — Zach (Senyshyn) and Fitzy (Ryan Fitzgerald). Maybe they push through.’’
With an opening on right wing on David Krejci’s line, “Heinen could move up there or maybe that’s where Donato or another young player comes up and does it,’’ he said.
Via free agency, the Bruins added bottom six forwards Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom.
“We hope those two guys can give us what (Nash and Schaller) gave us. We feel they can. Then it’s a matter of the younger guys — can they push one of the more established guys? That’s what it comes down to. That’s when you know your team is good, when the younger guys push the older guys and if they are better, then we make room for them,’’ Cassidy said.
“We just want to build on (last season), knowing that our division might be the toughest to get out of. Everyone says that about their division, but we feel Toronto, Tampa and the way Florida has come along, that it’s going to be tough,’’ he said.
The first order of business for Cassidy and the Bruins will be the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo from Sept. 7 to 10.
“That’s a great precursor to what’s going to happen (in training camp),’’ Cassidy said. “I remember the year Nashville had (Filip) Forsberg and we had (David) Pastrnak, Tampa had (Jonathan) Drouin. Those were the big names. Pasta and Forsberg were two of the better players there.
“If a young guy really steps up there, then there’s a pretty good chance he’ll do well with us. If he’s not able to do it there, then he’s not ready, most of the time. That gives us a head’s up as to how we want to evaluate at our camp,’’ said Cassidy.
Boston’s camp will be unusual this season, as part of the team will travel to China for a pair of preseason games against Calgary.
Cassidy is looking forward to the trip.
“I like to see different parts of the world, different cultures. Once you are on the ice, training camp is training camp,’’ he said.
Wagner, who is from Walpole, Mass., is excited not only to join his hometown team, but to play for a Stanley Cup contender after finishing last season with the New York Islanders.
“(Playing for a winner) was a huge factor (in deciding to sign with Boston). It’s no fun going to a team and losing, no matter where it is,” he said. “To have a chance to win every night, that makes it fun — and then go to the playoffs. That’s the best time to play,’’ he said.
Published at Mon, 27 Aug 2018 00:51:36 +0000