Bruins takeaways: Matthew Poitras might have earned a spot on NHL roster


Matthew Poitras, Johnny Beecher, and Mason Lohrei all impressed Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Boston Bruins center Matthew Poitras (51) celebrates his goal against the Washington Capitals during the third period of a preseason NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Boston.
Matthew Poitras now has four points in four preseason games with the Bruins. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

In what stood as their final preseason contest on home ice, the Bruins ultimately came up short against the Washington Capitals in overtime — dropping a 5-4 result.

It was a defense-optional night on Causeway Street, with James van Riemsdyk, Mason Lohrei, Milan Lucic, and Matthew Poitras all scoring for Boston. Linus Ullmark played the entire game between the pipes for the Bruins, stopping 36 of the 41 shots that came his way.

Here are a few takeaways and observations from Boston’s penultimate preseason matchup in 2023.

Matthew Poitras might be sticking around 

Another day, another test passed for Matthew Poitras.

The 19-year-old forward has been building plenty of momentum in his favor throughout the preseason, with Brad Marchand even comparing him to Mitch Marner after the rookie posted three points in his first three preseason contests.

But Tuesday’s matchup against the Capitals represented the most daunting ask for the young pivot to date. Not only was he set to log top-six minutes against a Washington roster rolling out several starters, but Poitras was skating on the second leg of a back-to-back slate after playing against the Flyers on Monday.

Poitras already has his hands full adjusting to the added physicality and the toll that comes with playing night in and night out against NHL competition, especially given his slender 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame.

But even with some expected lulls on tired legs, Poitras still found a way to impact Tuesday’s preseason contest.

Skating alongside Brad Marchand and Trent Frederic on Boston’s top line, Poitras uncorked a highlight-reel goal in the third period – slipping past Evgeny Kuznetsov and eventually beating Darcy Kuemper with a few quick dekes and a wrist shot.

“He played almost 17 minutes last night and tonight he was over 18 minutes,” Jim Montgomery said of Poitras. “So back-to-back with what is uncommon travel that you wouldn’t really see in the regular season. … Overall, he competed, right? What you like is that he lost some battles, then he comes back and wins battles. That was a big goal that he scored to tie it up and he continues to show a lot of poise with the puck. “

It wasn’t the greatest start for Poitras and that top Bruins line, with Washington holding a 7-0 edge in shots on goal against that trio through the first two periods of play.

But Poitras elevated his play as the game progressed. Along with his third-period tally, Poitras blocked a shot during a suffocating O-zone shift from the Caps and stayed out on the ice for another 40 seconds before the puck was cleared.

It still remains to be seen if Poitras has what it takes to last a whole season in the NHL at his age.

But he’s all but earned a spot up with Boston for at least the first nine games of the 2023-24 regular season.

“I don’t know. But I think I’ve played pretty well and I’ve done everything I can,” Poitras said when asked if he’s done enough to earn a spot. “So [I] just think I made it pretty difficult on them.”

Mason Lohrei makes a late push 

Poitras has understandably drawn most of the praise among Boston’s crop of young talent so far during preseason action.

But with roster cuts looming on Wednesday, Mason Lohrei once again put together an encouraging performance against the Capitals. The 22-year-old blueliner skated with Charlie McAvoy on Boston’s top pair, logging a team-high 24:40 of ice time and scoring a goal in the first period.

“I thought Lohrei was really on his toes,” Montgomery said. “That was the best I’ve seen him jump into the offense. Really supporting plays. I really love his goal, because that’s the way we want to play — like once we get the puck, we want to transition with five guys going. It was nice to see a defenseman pass to a defenseman for a goal.”

As has been the case throughout preseason action, Lohrei’s poise with the puck and his ability to orchestrate scoring chances in the O-zone is apparent — with his 6-foot-4 frame making him a potential top-four stalwart as he continues to mature and round out his overall game.

At this stage of his development, it’s clear that Lohrei still needs to round out his D-zone play and skating, along with tacking on some added muscle.

But could Boston opt to have him learn on the fly at the NHL level in 2023-24?

Even with his solid showing so far during preseason action, Lohrei might be better served starting the year in Providence, where at least he can log 20+ minutes a night and also earn top power-play reps for the time being.

Even if Lohrei was to break camp with Boston, he’s potentially playing sheltered minutes further down the lineup, with power-play shifts also hard to come by.

Given his varied skillset, my early read on Lohrei was that he was going to need at least a full year in the AHL to really be considered a viable candidate for steady minutes on Boston’s roster.

But after what we’ve seen from him so far, Lohrei could be a realistic candidate for a mid-season promotion, especially if he makes the most of the heavy minutes that will be up for grabs in Providence.

Lucic makes his presence felt with young checking unit

For the first time in 3,104 days (April 4, 2015), Milan Lucic took to the TD Garden ice in a black-and-gold sweater.

And even though his role has changed from his days as a top-six stalwart, Lucic made an impact as the anchor on a potentially intriguing fourth-line combo next to Jakub Lauko and Johnny Beecher.

Along with setting up Lohrei’s tally in the first period, Lucic lit the lamp as a Bruin for the first time since March 31, 2015 — with his attempted feed to Beecher bouncing off a Caps stick and past Kuemper at 8:23 in the second period.

Lucic’s spot as Boston’s fourth-line left wing has been all but a lock since camp opened. But slotting him next to two fleet-footed skaters capable of landing some welts in Beecher and Lauko could give Boston a punishing checking unit.

“I thought that was a really effective line,” Montgomery said. “I gave them some O-zone starts, but mostly D-zone starts. I don’t know the stats. I thought Beecher did well on the dot, won some big draws for us. So the speed and the combination of speed and will was pretty evident. They did a lot of good things out there.”

The opportunity should be there for Lauko to grow into his role in Boston’s bottom six after impressing under limited reps in 2022-23.

But Beecher has also put his best foot forward this camp and might have leapfrogged Patrick Brown as Boston’s go-to option as the team’s fourth-line center.

Along with his primary assist on Lucic’s goal, Beecher landed four hits, recorded four takeaways and won seven of 13 faceoff opportunities against Washington.

“I thought he was really good,” Montgomery said of Beecher. “I thought he won a lot of battles that created offense. He got a lot of good offense from defense which is something that was very encouraging to see. He played a really good hockey game.”

Loose pucks 

It was a bit of a slow start for Ullmark, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winner turned into a brick wall as the game progressed. On a night where Boston’s D-zone coverage left a lot to be desired, Ullmark recorded 18 saves on high-danger shots. 


A potential second-line option of Pavel Zacha, James van Riemsdyk, and David Pastrnak opened the scoring for Boston — with van Riemsdyk knocking home a feed from Pastrnak just 53 seconds into the game. 


More roster cuts could be announced as soon as Wednesday as Boston aims to get its camp roster down to one group ahead of Thursday’s game against the Rangers.

The Bruins shed a number of players off their roster on Tuesday afternoon — placing forward Anthony Richard and defensemen Alec Regula, Dan Renouf, Reilly Walsh and Parker Wotherspoon on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence. Both Fabian Lysell and Michael Callahan will also report to Providence training camp.

“I think Lysell’s had moments where he’s been good,” Montgomery said. “He’s had moments where he’s struggled, just as far as he’s drafted to be a skilled offensive player and in order to be a skilled offensive player, you’ve got to produce and we haven’t seen the production yet.”


A bit of a lackluster showing from Jakub Zboril, who could be at risk of losing his spot as Boston’s 7th D to Ian Mitchell as camp starts to wrap up. Trevor Kuntar was a fly in ointment during his limited ice time on Tuesday, often skating on a line with heavy D-zone reps alongside Danton Heinen and Jayson Megna.


Ahead of puck drop, the Bruins held a moment of silence in memory of Tim Wakefield, Russ Francis, and Chris Snow.