John Beecher is hoping to make the most of his return to the NHL

BOSTON, MA – September 22: Boston Bruins center John Beecher (19) skates with the puck as the Bruins take their first day of practice at Warrior Arena on September 22, 2022 in BOSTON, MA. (Staff photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

John Beecher sat with his roommate Matt Poitras in his Boston-area apartment, a place they had gathered after making the Bruins’ varsity roster out of training camp, musing on the sometimes fleeting existence of young professionals athletes.

Beecher had been demoted to the Providence Bruins and Matt Poitras would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

“I looked at him when we were sitting on the couch and I thought, ‘Man, things have gotten worse,’” Beecher recalled with a smile Saturday morning. “We just kind of laughed about it. It’s part of the lifestyle where you are both alive.”

While Poitras is still working in hopes of being ready for training camp next September, things have been looking up for Beecher. After spending two months in Providence, he was recalled on March 14 and has been virtually a fixture in the lineup since then, appearing in 13 of the remaining 15 games. He was scheduled to see his first Stanley Cup playoff action Saturday night against the Leafs.

“I’m definitely excited about the whole experience,” Beecher said. “You grow up as a kid watching and pretending you’re playing street hockey in your backyard in the Stanley Cup Final. It’s surreal to have the opportunity to be a part of that now. There are definitely a bit of nerves and jitters, but I’m sure once the game gets going I’ll settle in and be ready to rock.

Beecher skates as a left wing on a fourth line with center Jesper Boqvist and right wing Pat Maroon. But he has taken most of the faceoffs and could be a valuable piece for the B’s on the penalty kill and in late lead-protection situations. With a faceoff win of 54.6%, he is barely behind Pavel Zacha (54.8%) for the top spot on the B’s

Coach Jim Montgomery has seen growth in the rough parts of Beecher’s game

“Intensity and one-on-one battles. That was an area we felt he needed to step down and focus on. And it is an area that has improved dramatically,” Montgomery said. “His confrontations and penalty killing have always been something we really appreciate.”

Beecher, who had 7-3-10 totals in 52 games, can see the growth in his game.

“It’s one of those things where, yeah, you don’t want to get sent down, but that’s way above my pay grade to determine that,” Beecher said. “In the end I think it was good for me. I was able to go down and refocus, reset mid-season, gain some confidence and get a little bit better shape just by playing more minutes every night. So yeah, I think it was good for me in the end. It’s just part of the business.”

His orders were to remain locked up.

“A lot of it is just the consistency component of it,” Beecher said. “I’m having conversations with Monty and (GM Don Sweeney) about bringing it. If we play three games in a weekend, it will be two or three games, instead of one game. I think it’s going to be really important for me to just take a step forward and take ownership of that and make sure I’m ready to show up every night, especially this time of year. There is no longer a single time you can turn off a game. I am excited about the challenge ahead and it will be a good one.”

When asked if he liked the consistency Beecher has brought, Montgomery’s response underscored the everyday nature of this time of year.

“It’s a whole new world today. It’s the playoffs,” Montgomery said. “We’ll see how it goes (Saturday night). For everyone, not just him.”…

The B’s somewhat surprisingly had a full morning skate after two full days of practice, though they didn’t stay on the ice for much more than 15 minutes.

“I didn’t think we had to go on the ice today, but the players wanted to and that’s normal. It’s an 8 hour race. We probably wouldn’t have been there at 7 o’clock,” Montgomery said…

Derek Forbort, who made a surprise bid to return to the B lineup after undergoing surgery for two undisclosed injuries, played for the Providence Bruins during his conditioning stint on Friday.

‘He just walks along the stairs. From what I see, it looked rusty,” Montgomery said….

The expectation was that the scratches for Saturday evening would be James van Riemsdyk up front and Parker Wotherspoon in defense. Mason Lohrei was sent back to Providence…

The B’s enter this series with six straight first-round wins over the Leafs in the first round. The only franchise to have more consecutive first-round wins versus another franchise was Montreal against – you guessed it – the Bruins with 10 dating from 1947 to 1987.

If the B’s prevail in a Game 7 this year, they would tie a record for most consecutive Game 7 wins in a single franchise. The record of four is held by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Washington Capitals.