Bruins

Could a 6-year-old veteran finally make an impact on the NHL at a big club?

Bruins forward AJ Greer celebrates the winner in extra time. John Tlumacki / Boston Globe

The first cuts are fast approaching and the Boston Bruins squad is slowly taking shape for the season opening.

Tuesday’s pre-season opening against the New York Rangers was the first sight of Anton Stralman in the game after the veteran defender arrived at the PTO late last week. Other notable show debuts include Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, Craig Smith, Hampus Lindholm, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Swayman, among others.

It also brought another pre-season plan for Oskar Steen and Jacek Studnicki. Both young strikers provided Providence Bruins with a timely offensive production during the first few seasons of professional hockey. Still, neither of them could secure a full-time role in Boston after their time at a major club.

However, as Tuesday’s tilt with the Rangers reached its final act, an unknown name took the limelight with a landmark release.

The two-goal performance of veteran forward AJ Greer, limited by the winner after extra time, further strengthened his arguments for one of the fourth line vacancies.

From Greer to Steen and Studnicka, here’s what we learned from the Bruins 3-2 triumph over the Rangers.

Greer made another good impression.

Montreal-born Greer emerged as one of the most underrated candidates for a potential fourth line role.

The former Boston University product spent the first five seasons in the league between Avalanche and Devils. To date, he has only scored 47 games in his NHL career.

It fits any description of the role of the fourth line: vigorous, hard-headed, and heavily-armed. The opportunistic Greer showed these qualities on Tuesday and added an offensive twist with an even equalization in the second period and the winners after extra time, both came to the aid of Studnicka.

“I’ve always seen myself play the hockey the Bruins play,” Greer said after the game. “To be here is a dream come true. I am lucky to be in the situation I am in and I am just trying to make the most of my opportunities. “

Greer’s performance throughout the camp made the competition for the open bottom six places even more intriguing. He finds himself in a mix with Studnicka, Tomas Nosek, Nick Foligno and Mark McLaughlin. Another solid week could make Greer the favorite from a dark horse candidate, to be on the Boston control line in two weeks.

Studnicka and Steen were delivered on time.

Like Greer, Studnicka and Steen will have to remove the exemptions if GM Don Sweeney decides to send them to Providence. Unlike Greer, Studnick and Steen don’t necessarily have the final roles in the bottom six. Depending on Montgomery’s staff, they can appear on the third or fourth line and possibly add extra minutes for special teams.

Either way, they need a solid string of pre-season performances to become potential candidates.

“This is something that I am definitely aware of,” said Studnicka. “I just don’t try to dwell on what is and come up every day with the hope that all will go well.”

On Saturday in Philadelphia, debuting up and down the pre-season, Studnicka stuck to a strong pre-control, generating a lot of qualitative styling for the fourth line duty with Greer and Mark McLaughlin.

Steen had a comparatively night comparable … until the third period.

The Bruins found themselves in a shortened 2-1 loss at the start of the last verse. It didn’t take long for them to score from the penalty spot as Steen miscalculated after feeding Joona Koopanen during 2v1 to level the situation at 2-2.

“I think I entered this year with more confidence. And I just try to be good every day and fight for the last places on the team, ”Steen said about his preseason approach. “It’s a great feeling for me to come to the ice rink every day and do a good job.”

More squad decisions await new coach Jim Montgomery and the coaching staff after the upcoming first round of cuts. Assuming Studnicka and Steen stay on board, they’re likely to stay in similar roles for the bottom six, as veterans like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, and Jake DeBrusk will get more replays in the game at the end of preseason.

The Lindholm-Stralman pairing provides potential intrigue.

Half of Boston’s top defensive pair on Tuesday hope to impress the team enough to win another NHL contract. The second half will rely heavily at the start of the year with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy departing.

However, the Lindholm-Stralman couple is not necessarily a one-off. Ideally, the Bruins could poach in the same pair as they face Alex Ovechkin and co in 14 days.

Against a solid core of Ranger veterans, the Swedes made a solid first impression as a duo, leading the Bruins in the interim play while keeping a firm hand on the defensive. The Bruins had a 17-5 advantage in a 5v5 throw-in at 14:43 on Lindholm-Stralman.

“Calm, cool and collective,” Montgomery said of Lindholm and Stralman. “They had some great breaks … they were really good.”

Lindholm will likely be skating with McAvoy or Carlo with a fully healthy D core. With all the other options out there, a permanent veteran like the Stralman provides an intriguing right shot option in the third pair of shots.

Bruins with shortened hands will have their hands full to start the year. However, they were able to land on a pair of dependable Swedish blue liners before the season began.

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#Greer #handling #case #fourth #line

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