The Bruins took on the New York Rangers last night at the Garden for their second preseason game. After falling 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers last Saturday, this game proved much more thrilling. The original six matchup didn’t disappoint even though it was just an exhibition game for the black and gold. Fans got a chance to see some young faces make names for themselves as they look to lock in one of the final roster spots for the 2022-2023 season.
While plenty of players impressed during the 3-2 OT win, one player stole the show thanks to his OT heroics and impressive play throughout the game. A.J. Greer was all over the ice for the Bruins last night as he finished with two goals, including the game-winner in 13:27 of total ice time.
He also made his presence felt with multiple hard hits to Rangers players as he set the tempo with a game-high seven hits and tied for a game-high five shots on goal.
After Oskar Steen tied the game with a beautiful shorthanded goal, the third would end 2-2 and go to overtime, and none other than A.J. Greer put the game away with an incredible top-shelf snipe.
Through two exhibition outings, Greer has shown an intriguing blend of size, skill, and speed, a combination that could make him a valuable addition to Boston’s bottom six. He has also caught the attention of head coach Jim Montgomery who has spoken highly of the young forward:
“It’s still early in camp, we have another 10 days still until we start,” said Montgomery. “But he’s done a great job. If we were starting tomorrow, he’s playing.”
“I guess that remains to be seen what else he can give, but what I like is we see a young man who is looking to make the starting lineup from Game 1,” said Montgomery. “He’s doing everything he can to impress – he’s fighting, he’s hitting, he’s shooting, he gets energy in the building, and he gets energy on our bench, so he’s doing a lot of good things.”
A.J. Greer was signed this off-season to a two-year, $1.525 million contract back in July; many were not familiar with the 25-year-old big-bodied winger who only has 47 NHL games under his belt since debuting back in 2016. The former second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has quickly made a name for himself after just two preseason games.
Did the Bruins find their Lucic/Thorton type player they’ve been missing?
Greer kicked off his Bruins tenure showing off his physicality in game one by landing three hits in 9:24 of ice time while racking up 17 penalty minutes when he dropped the gloves with Hayden Hodgson after the Flyers’ forward hit Boston blue liner Josiah Didier awkwardly in the corner. He showed the grit and physical presence in game one that this Bruins team has been lacking for years, as they need a fourth-line guy who is not afraid to drop the gloves in retaliation for a questionable hit.
One thing Greer mentioned during a press conference that should have Bruins fans excited is the young winger models his game after former Bruins forward Milan Lucic:
“Being from Montreal, you always watch the Bruins. You look at those teams, and they’re so exciting – the Black & Gold,” said Greer. “I grew up watching Milan Lucic. There’s a lot of Bruins fans in Montreal. I actually try to model my game after him for sure. That energy, physical, put the puck in the net, and will stick up for his teammates at any time.”
Is Greer becoming a lock for the 4th line to start the season?
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is precisely what the Bruins have been lacking on the 4th line for years. He has more skill than Curtis Lazar and is entering his prime. He has outplayed all the fourth-line veteran options, such as Tomas Nosek, Nick Foligno, and Chris Wagner. Greer has undoubtedly made a name for himself early on and must continue throughout the remainder of camp, showing his skill and ability so far.
When speaking to the media, Greer has mentioned how focused he is as everything seems to be coming together at the perfect moment:
“I think everything is coming to a peak here,” said Greer, who was signed by the B’s to a two-year contract with a $762,500 annual cap hit on the opening day of free agency in July. “Everything on and off the ice is coming to fruition. Sometimes it doesn’t work out right away, but it’s the perseverance. You’ve gotta see that goal, you’ve gotta breathe it, you’ve gotta live it, you’ve gotta do everything you can to be able to make it.”
“The stars line up sometimes, and for me to be given the opportunity here and to be put in a situation where I can show my talents on the ice and play a lot of minutes and do the best that I can…this year, yeah, I feel a lot more confident. Coming into camp, I feel a lot more poised.
“They trusted me with the contract they gave me, and I want to make sure they made the right decision. I know what I’m capable of, and to be given the opportunity, I cherish that, and I’m gonna give back to the game and give my 100 percent and do everything that I can to put myself in that position to succeed.”