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Camp wrap

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  October 6, 2008 07:42 AM

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The Bruins closed out a jam-packed preseason yesterday that saw them skate in four states, two provinces, and one district. Final cuts or possible trades will take place either today or tomorrow in advance of Wednesday's 3 p.m. roster-setting deadline.

Some observations:

* A lot of camp talk has centered on Blake Wheeler. Rightfully so. Wheeler wasn't just the most impressive rookie in camp, but one of the team's best forwards. Part of the reason for the chatter is because Wheeler was expected to require AHL development. But based on his camp, he's ready to play in the NHL. More importantly, the Bruins need his help to start a season that kicks off with four road games.

* One of the biggest question marks heading into camp was Manny Fernandez. Was his knee sound? Would his back hold up under the strain? Could he reclaim his game after more than a year removed from healthy NHL play? Fernandez isn't in midseason form yet, clearly. But he's trending in the right direction and not looking like the wreck he was in 2007-08.

mannyfernandez100608.jpg
Manny Fernandez has come a long way since the preseason opener. (Getty Images)

* With Fernandez and Tim Thomas in their contract years, it's highly unlikely the Bruins would re-sign both goalies or let them both walk. So the guess here is that they re-sign one of the goalies, trade the other, and promote Tuukka Rask, who proved in camp that he's ready to play with the big boys.

* Veterans who had disappointing camps include Andrew Alberts, Marc Savard, and Peter Schaefer. One factor in Alberts's struggles may have been his long layoff after suffering head and neck injuries last season. Savard should be fine come the regular season. Schaefer, though, was on the bubble heading into camp. He was slowed by a hip injury, but he didn't help himself with his so-so play.

* Interesting to watch the once-conservative defensemen pinch, join the rush, and jump up in the play throughout camp. Claude Julien said he'd relax his leash on the D-men this year. Mark Stuart was especially aggressive, showing he can barrel into the rush but also recover when necessary.

* Put Matt Lashoff in the disappointing category. Lashoff only turned 22 last month, so perhaps he needs more time to develop. But considering all the skills he brings to his game, it's puzzling why he can't play with confidence.

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