Designated Hitter: The Baby Bruins hit the ice scoring in opener

You've been busy this weekend, I understand it.

The Patriots played on Thursday. The Red Sox playoff run began (and maybe came to a crashing end) at the same time. All the while, Boston's No. 4 team opened its season.

And while it is only one night, the Boston Bruins might have demonstrated that those of you who were otherwise involved, might just need to start watching this team.

"It was awesome," Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller told me when I asked him what it was like to watch the so-called Baby Bruins on the ice.

Boston scored four goals in Thursday night's opener against Nashville, and three of them were scored by players who are too young to rent a car in Massachusetts.

David Pastrnak, he of the new big-money contract, is 21, rookie Jake DeBrusk is 20, while defenseman Charlie McAvoy is a precocious 19. All three scored goals in the opener.

"They've definitely come in and provided a good spark," said Miller, the former Berkshire School product. "That's what you want from the young guys.

"I think you saw it in the preseason games. It's great for those guys."

None of those three players are playing above their skill levels. All of them were first-round draft picks. McAvoy, in fact, came right off the ice at Boston University and joined the Bruins on last year's playoff run.

McAvoy actually set up Pastrnak's goal on what could only be described as a nifty move, when they switched spots on the point during a power play, and Pastrnak blasted one home.

"I had more confidence with the puck, more poise and more patience," said McAvoy, when I asked him if this felt different than his first pro gram last year. "I think I was able to make more plays and feel a little more calm out there on the ice.

"The little introduction was pretty cool. It was nice to be a part of that."

For DeBrusk, whose father Louie played for four different NHL teams in his career, getting a goal in his first-ever regular season game was huge.

"I was in the opening-night lineup. You're all fired up, and then it's game on," DeBrusk said. "It's game on, it's the National League and it's something I'll never forget.

"I feel like I adjusted to it."

If you watched the game, in between commercial breaks of football or Rick Porcello's mop-up eighth inning, you saw a team that was not the "same old Bruins."

"We're pleased" with the play of those three youngsters, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. "They all had big moments. They all had learning moments through the course of the game, which we expected. They stayed with it.

"They're good players and they helped us win a hockey game. That's what they're there for."

It's the youngsters that are giving hockey fans in New England a bit more hope than they have had in the past few years.

It was long said that former coach Claude Julien did not trust his young players and preferred to go with veterans. That might be why Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton have developed elsewhere and Phil Kessel has two Stanley Cup rings. Cassidy, at least in his half-year with the team, has not been afraid to play young players. In fact, McAvoy was thrown into the Stanley Cup playoffs fresh off of playing at BU.

"We don't think about" a culture change, McAvoy told me. "We go around this team, and we all think we can contribute. We're confident in the group we have.

"We all believe in each other."

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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