BOSTON – Reasonable people accept the notion that the Bruins will probably need some time to get to know where and how each of their new players can be used best.
They Bruins could also use a little time to get to know the new guys, period, and that opportunity lies just ahead.
The Bruins, who didn’t even make an overnight stay during preseason, departed on Tuesday for what seems a well-timed road trip that begins with a potentially perfect opponent: They’re in Denver on Wednesday night (9:35, NESN, 98.5 FM) to face the Avalanche, who posted a 4-0 victory on Monday at TD Garden, before visiting the Coyotes (Saturday) and expansion Golden Knights (Sunday).
“It’s important,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after Tuesday’s practice. “This road trip will be good for us to get away — something different.”
The B’s brought five rookies on the road. Two (defenseman Charlie McAvoy, winger Anders Bjork) were in college at this time last year, while forwards Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly and Danton Heinen (recalled on Tuesday from AHL Providence) all spent virtually their entire first pro seasons as P-Bruins. Veterans have learned a lot about their new teammates’ games in the past month, but not so much about the players themselves: Most weren’t even in the Bruins’ main dressing room at Warrior Ice Arena until they made it onto the Opening Night roster.
“It’s good for everyone,” winger Brad Marchand said. “It’s (the rookies’) first road trip, to get away and enjoy that. We don’t spend a ton of time together away from the rink, so it’ll be fun for everyone to get to know each other a little bit more, bond a bit — get away from the rink and have a little fun.”
It’s still a business trip, though, and no Bruin was happy about how they conducted their business on Monday. Three days after a 4-3 Opening Night victory over the defending Western Conference champion Predators in which DeBrusk, McAvoy (goal, assist apiece) and Bjork (assist) played major roles, virtually the entire team took a step back against the Avs, who finished last in the NHL last season — 21 points beneath the next team on the ladder.
Cassidy, who didn’t even think the Bruins practiced particularly well between games, was in correction mode on Tuesday.
“I’m encouraging playing in straight lines, getting pucks to the net when the opportunity’s there, defending the slot — all things we didn’t do well enough (Monday),” he said. “We happen to be playing the same team, which doesn’t happen a lot, so let’s make sure we correct them and put our best foot forward.”
A combination of necessity and Cassidy’s self-proclaimed tendency to tinker will result in an altered lineup against the Avs — at least, to start.
After trying Ryan Spooner and David Krejci, Cassidy will use Riley Nash to sub for Patrice Bergeron, who’ll miss his third straight game with a lower body injury. Nash gets Bergeron’s long-time linemate Marchand, who has been held to an empty-net goal and two shots on goal through two games, and David Pastrnak as his wings; Krejci will reprise his role between rookies DeBrusk and Bjork, a combination Cassidy split up during Monday’s loss.
Where, how, or even if Heinen, who played eight scoreless games last season, will be deployed is uncertain. The mere presence of Heinen and well-traveled veteran Ryan White, a tryout candidate who joined practice on Tuesday, sends a message, though.
“We want to let guys relax and play, but at the same time, this is a business,” Cassidy said. “We have a standard, and we didn’t play to it (Monday). We’re going to try to get back to it tomorrow. If creating competition is what’s going to make it better, then that’s an avenue we’ll look at.”
AROUND THE BOARDS: After three days on the ice, Bergeron didn’t skate on Tuesday. “We’re aiming for the weekend,” said Cassidy, adding, “I don’t know if ‘got worse’ is the right way (to describe Bergeron’s condition). It just hasn’t, I guess, responded well to treatment, is probably a better way of putting it.” … White, a 6-foot, 200-pound banger in the mold of injured right wings Noel Acciari and David Backes, had a tryout with the Canucks derailed by a concussion. “This is the best opportunity I can get right now,” said the former Canadien and Flyer, who divided last season between the Coyotes (7-6—13, 70 penalty minutes in 46 games) and Wild. “I’m fortunate to be here."