Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/20/14
8 a.m.: Ready or not, hockey is back in Boston. The Bruins’ abbreviated summer vacation is over after coming up just short during an abbreviated 2013 season. Just a little more than three months after their season ended with a loss to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final, the B’s are set to open their 2013-14 campaign Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the B’s are returning a good majority of their core that’s been to two Stanley Cup Finals in the last three years, there will be noticeable change when they hit the TD Garden ice for the first time. There’s been a shakeup in the top six, with Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin gone through free agency and a trade respectively. In their places will be Jarome Iginla on the first-line right wing as he begins his latest quest for a Stanley Cup, while Loui Eriksson has come aboard to skate on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. There’s also some changes on the blue line. The Bruins made the hard decision to move on from Andrew Ference who is now in Edmonton serving as the Oilers’ captain. The decision to let Ference walk in free agency was spurned in large part due to the emergence of a trio of young defensemen. Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski will continue to battle it out for the fifth and sixth defensive spots as the season begins. Tuukka Rask is back between the pipes, of course, but he’s doing so as a man who became very rich this summer. Rask signed an enormous eight-year contract extension in July, and he’ll be looking to make good on that. It all gets started Thursday night at 7 p.m. from the Garden, and we’ll have updates throughout the day and night right here. Filed under: Boston Bruins, Headlines, Live Blog, Mike Cole

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