B's need to put crushing finish behind them

AP Photo/Michael DwyerThe Bruins need to get Charlie McAvoy signed quickly.

BRIGHTON — It was a tiring summer for Torey Krug.

It wasn’t so much from replaying the Bruins’ Game 7 Stanley Cup Final home loss to St. Louis over and over in his mind, nor answering questions about that devastating defeat from well-meaning friends and relatives.

The Boston defenseman’s sleep deprivation was the result of something eons more joyful: the birth of a daughter.

“Now it’s time to focus on hockey,” Krug said as the defending Eastern Conference champions started training camp with some off-ice work at Warrior Arena Thursday.

They got on the ice as a team for the first time Friday morning as they gear up for the season opener Oct. 3 in Dallas.

Still, Krug and his teammates admit it isn’t as easy to just push aside the crushing disappointment that came as a result of that 4-1 home ice loss to the Blues three months prior.

And in reality, how could it? Pain, grieving, loss ... it all takes time to process.

“I don’t think you’ll ever get it over it. It’s something that’ll sting forever,” said the 28-year-old Krug, entering the final year of his contract and hopeful he and the Boston brass can come to an extension. “The what-if’s, the questions ... it’s a tough pill to swallow. I don’t know if you can ever get over it, but you just have to. You have to find a way to move on.”

Coming off of his first 100-point season, left wing Brad Marchand professed it’s hard to turn off his hockey mind during the summer “when we live and breath it.”

Still, he used the three-month respite from the rink to mainly stay close to his home in Nova Scotia and relax with family.

“That was a tough one to go through and lose,” he said. “You were just so close; such a great opportunity. But it’s a new year this year, a new opportunity again. I’m looking forward to it.”

There are some new faces (forwards Byron Ritchie, Par Lindholm) replacing a pair of old friends (fellow forwards Marcus Johansson, Noel Acciari) who signed elsewhere in the offseason. There are some rookies and NHL neophytes (Urho Vaakanainen, Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka) trying to prove they deserve NHL jobs.

Most notably, there are two restricted free agents in top four defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo who are absent from camp while their representatives remain in contract talks with the Bruins. It’s evident that both sides hope the respective negotiations resolve themselves sooner rather than later.

But by and large, it is the same Black-and-Gold squad which finished second in the Atlantic Division and third overall (107 points) a year ago.

They once again defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs over seven games in the opening round of the playoffs before dispatching Columbus in six and sweeping Carolina, only to fall to the underdog Blues in a Game 7 whimper.

The talent in the organization is too great for this club to simply roll over and fade away. Scoring, depth, goaltending, the right mix of veterans and youngsters — the Bruins have set themselves up nicely in all of these categories. 

So head coach Bruce Cassidy felt it was best to take on the elephant in the room head on Thursday before they even had their first formal practice, talk about it briefly and swiftly move on to 2019-20.

“It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to move on, and I hope they feel the same way,” Cassidy said. “You look at our veteran group: we’ve got Stanley Cup champs, gold medalists, guys who have been captains in the National Hockey League, future Hall of Famers. I think they’re hockey players and they know what’s at stake when the puck drops. 

“There were a lot of good things last year, but we didn’t reach our ultimate goal,” he added.

“So we’re no different than St. Louis or Ottawa; take both ends of the spectrum. It’s a new year, teams are ready to go from scratch. We’re no different than the field ... our focus now is to put ourselves in the same position we were last year.”

The nine-month slog for the Bruins to earn the right to battle for hockey’s Holy Grail has begun anew.

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Phil Stacey covers the Boston Bruins for CHNISports Boston.

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