BOSTON – (Wire Service Report – Special to Digital Sports Desk) – The Boston Bruins will be without forward Patrice Bergeron and defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller for Thursday night’s season opener. General manager Don Sweeney announced Wednesday the three veterans will not travel to Columbus for the Bruins’ game against the Blue Jackets.
Bergeron sustained a lower-body injury and McQuaid an upper-body injury. Both are being evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
Miller underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand on Tuesday. His expected recovery time is six weeks. Bergeron played in 80 games last season, recording scoring 32 goals and 36 assists. McQuaid played in 64 contests, with one goal and eight assists. Miller skated in 71 games, with five goals and 13 assists.
Meanwhile, the Bruins recalled forward Tim Schaller from Providence of the American Hockey League. Schaller joined the team for Wednesday’s practice and will travel to Columbus.
BOSTON – (Wire Service Report) – David Ortiz had a message for the Boston Red Sox after his career ended with a three-game American League Division Series sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.
“I told my teammates to feel happy and good about themselves,” the retiring designated hitter/icon said after the season ended at Fenway Park.
And, the last nine games aside, they should feel good about themselves after pulling off yet another last-to-first turnaround.
Let’s see — last-to-first-to-last-to-last-to first. That was 2012-16, and it is hard to imagine another serious drop in 2017.
Hours after a 4-3 loss to the Indians ended the ALDS, Dave Dombrowski, the man in charge, announced manager John Farrell would return for 2017 — not great news to many in the Boston fan community, but a solid one given Farrell just won an AL East crown.
“For me, John Farrell did a fine job this year,” said Dombrowski, who likely would have fired Farrell last season had the manager not just been stricken with cancer. “I’ve been happy with working with him and myself. I think he has the respect of the clubhouse.
“We played hard. We had a good season. We won the division title. We communicate well with one another.”
Heading into the offseason, the Red Sox have young talent to trade and a need for pitching — the playoff failures of Rick Porcello and David Price still leaving the club without a pitcher on the roster with a postseason victory as a starter.
Ortiz is gone, and while the clamor is already starting for Edwin Encarnacion via a huge free agent deal, there appears to be enough offensive talent — including a reportedly slimmed-down Pablo Sandoval and Blake Swihart both returning from surgery — to make another run.
The DH role is one coveted by Hanley Ramirez, who did a decent job at first base. Travis Shaw could wind up as the first baseman, with Sandoval at third, or Sandoval could move to first and Shaw and Brock Holt sharing third.
BUFFALO – (Wire Service Report) – Buffalo Sabres star center Jack Eichel suffered an injury to his left leg during practice Wednesday and needed help getting off the ice. Eichel was injured in front of the net when he got tangled up with teammate Zemgus Girgensons and yelled in pain as he crumpled to the ice, according to the Buffalo News. Eichel grabbed his leg in pain as the team circled around him. The 19-year-old Eichel was helped up but was unable to put weight on his left leg.
“I was just trying to get the puck, and we got tangled,” Girgensons told reporters of the play. “He just fell awkward. It’s always tough to see someone go down, especially a guy like Eichs.”
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Eichel suffered an ankle injury and was being examined by the team’s medical staff.
Eichel, selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL draft out of Boston University, had 24 goals and 32 assists in 81 games in his rookie season in 2015-16.
The Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Newly acquired forward Kyle Okposo will miss the opener with a knee injury.
BOSTON – (From Wire Service and Staff Reporting) – Even though the buzz surrounding the World Cup of Hockey fizzled away before the final buzzer, it truly was an excellent whistle-wetter for the coming 2016-17 National Hockey League season. Now, a couple of weeks after Sidney Crosby led Canada to that championship — and exactly fourth months since he guided the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup — the puck drops on Wednesday for the 2016-17 campaign.
How long before the currently concussed Crosby is in action and whether he and the Penguins can repeat as champs remains to be seen, but we can guarantee there will be all kinds of wild happenings between now and the next time the Cup is hoisted.
As the curtain raises, here’s how we see the 30 teams stacking up, from best to worst.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Reasons for Optimism: A loaded team which reached the conference final last season is essentially the same — despite all the hope in Toronto that Steven Stamkos would bolt for the Maple Leafs. This club has knocked on the door the past two years and is still getting better.
Causes for Concern: Starting goaltender Ben Bishop’s status is a pending unrestricted free-agent, and it’s hard to believe the Lightning will expose backup Andrei Vasilevskiy in the coming expansion draft, making for a possible distraction.
2. Washington Capitals
Reasons for Optimism: The defending runaway Presidents’ Trophy-winning team appears even stronger, with better forward depth to go with a potent attack led by Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, along with a strong defense and top-shelf goalie in Braden Holtby.
Causes for Concern: If Kuznetsov takes a step back after his breakout season or backup goalie Philipp Grubbauer can’t take enough of a load off Holtby for him to be in top form come playoffs, the Caps could stumble.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Reasons for Optimism: Other than the fact they are essentially the same team which won the Cup? This is a deep team up front with a better-than-advertised blueline brigade and strong goaltending.
Causes for Concern: Crosby’s concussion comes with uncertainty, even if he returns right away. Last spring’s surprise in goal, Matt Murray, is nursing a hand injury from the World Cup, defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Matta have unsettling injury histories and that Stanley Cup hangover may come into play.