The Bruins are a very good hockey team.

This much we knew before Saturday, when the Bruins, with an almost full varsity roster, danced around the Washington Generals dressed in Chicago Blackhawks jerseys (the real Blackhawks are in Europe for the start of the regular season) to finish off the preseason schedule with an 8-2 victory at TD Garden.

But are they a team without question marks? Hardly. No, they are not the type of questions that would derail a season, but they could be the difference between the Bruins being, say, an early playoff casualty or a Stanley Cup champion.

The main one facing the Bruins is whether Karson Kuhlman is a real second line right wing or just the smart, rugged, bottom-six plugger the Bruins thought he was not too long ago.

He showed enough hints he could be the former late last season and through training camp for the Bruins to continue this experiment into the regular season. The Bruins also invested $1 million in Brett Ritchie and would have liked to have seen him play with David Krejci, but that opportunity went up in smoke when Krejci got hurt on the second shift of his first preseason game. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Ritchie gets the first look there, assuming Krejci himself is ready, which Coach Bruce Cassidy expects will be the case.

But Cassidy does have a certain comfort level with Kuhlman.


“I know he can play there. I’ve seen it,” Cassidy said. “I’m comfortable with how he plays. We’ve just got to make the decision on what’s best for the team. We’ve got some new players here. Do they get a look there first? We’ll talk about all that stuff. But to answer your question, yes, I like the way he plays. He complements Krejci. He’s not your typical second-line right winger because his resume isn’t as extensive, but he’s gone in there and done the job in important games.”

If Kuhlman doesn’t have the staying power to be a top-six forward and Ritchie also isn’t the answer for the second line, then there may see some pieces moved around – the biggest being Charlie Coyle.

Just entering his prime years at the age of 27, Coyle appears poised to have a terrific season. Since training camp opened a couple weeks ago, Coyle has been the Bruins’ best player and has done so by playing his natural center position. He had a goal and two assists Saturday, was plus-3, and won 12 of 16 faceoffs while centering mostly Jake DeBrusk (hat trick, assist) and Kuhlman (goal). Ritchie (assist) got a look there in the third period.

Cassidy’s been bullish on Coyle from the start of training camp – his first with the Bruins after being acquired in a trade in March.

“I’ve liked his camp. He’s done a good job and the numbers back that up on the scoresheet, but also just watching him every day in practice, he’s dialed in and ready to go,” Cassidy said. “Maybe being here now from the beginning will give him more confidence. I think the playoffs gave him confidence. He was a big part of our success, he scored goals. It looks like he’s taking off. He might just be that guy who needs a little time to settle in. We like him in the middle and he’ll make our third line stronger no matter who he plays. And it’s nice to know that if Krech or (Patrice Bergeron) go down, he can go up, so there are a lot of positives.”

But Cassidy also has said he expects he’ll use Coyle as a right wing for Krejci at some point down the road. If the other options falter, Coyle could get bumped up to the second line, with Sean Kuraly or interesting newcomer Par Lindholm presumably taking Coyle’s place on the third line. On the other hand, Cassidy also really likes the depth Coyle provides as a third-line center. It’ll be interesting to see what it takes to force Cassidy to make that switch.

But in the National Hockey League, these amount to First World problems. The top line of Brad Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak (hat trick on Saturday) looked like they’ve been playing together for years, because they have been. The power play was clicking again. The preseason is over and the real games begin this week.

And you can count the B’s among a handful of team for whom a Stanley Cup is the only measure of success.

Comments are not available on this story.