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BOSTON (CBS) – There aren’t many worse ways to return to home ice for the first time since you lost the Stanley Cup with a 17-second late-game lapse just three months ago.
Facing a Detroit Red Wings team that brought Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk from Motown to the Hub for the Bruins’ first home game of the preseason, the Bruins did little right en route to an 8-2 whooping at TD Garden.
However, it was still just preseason. And one veteran and one rookie went through important experiences in Boston’s third preseason game overall.
Rookie Malcolm Subban made his first start and found out that all those NHL-caliber shots he’s heard about and talked about for years are for real. He let in all eight goals on 28 shots. To his credit, he wasn’t crying in his postgame beverage or hiding in the farthest regions of the dressing room after the debacle.
“You know, they’re a good team,” said the Bruins’ 2012 first-round pick. “And it can only get better from here. I’m not looking at it that way. I’m looking at it in a positive way. It’s probably a good thing. Now I can be more focused obviously and start the game better. Going down 2-0 pretty early like that doesn’t help.”
Subban let up two goals in the first, two in the second and four in the third. Prior to that first goal of the night by Justin Abdelkader, the Bruins enjoyed one of their few celebratory moments of the evening when Gregory Campbell took his first shift in a game since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh. His shattered fibula now healed and his ability to play in games cleared by team doctors, Campbell took the ice to a rousing ovation even though all he did was skate back to support his puck-carrying defensemen.
He finished the night with 12:17 of ice time. He landed two shots on net and won six of 11 faceoffs.
“I felt pretty good. My body felt good,” Campbell said. “I actually had no expectations. I just wanted to get the first period over with, feel the pace of the game. I’m very grateful to be back on the ice and to be playing. It was a long couple months, so for me it was an exciting time. I would’ve liked to be on the winning side of things, but there were some things to build on for my game personally and for the team.”
There were some things to build on and some to forget. Down the road, Subban might want to remember this game as his early-career wakeup call. And Campbell will want to remember it as his career restart after a dramatic injury. To the rest of the players and people subjected to watching this contest, memories of this game will be joked about like episodes of “Joey.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.