Thanks to a 4-0 sweep of the Lightning by the Canadiens, and a 4-1 dispatching of the Red Wings by the Bruins, the first of four second-round matchups in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set, with the Bruins and Canadiens meeting in the playoffs for the 34th time. Naturally, fans of both franchises are eager to get underway what will undoubtedly be a series for the ages.
But when will it finally begin? Despite the fact that the matchup is already set, there has been no word about when the series will start, and there are extenuating circumstances that may delay the series further.
One reason for the delay is obvious: the NHL cannot announce the schedule for Round 2 until Round 1 is over, which can't happen until at least Wednesday, when two Western Conference series will go to a Game 7.
No matter what the outcome of all of the remaining series, Round 1 will end on Wednesday night. That would leave one day in between rounds if the NHL decided to start Round 2 on Friday.
The Bruins and Habs, however, would be unlikely to start on Friday, as Game 1 must be in the TD Garden, where Northeastern University has scheduled their commencement ceremonies for that morning.
The university is expecting 20,000 undergraduate students, family members, friends, and university leaders in attendance. Students are scheduled to report at 8 a.m., with the ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Anyone who has been to a college graduation knows that they take a while, and by the time it ends, there may not be enough time to break down the Garden floor and fully prepare the arena for Game 1.
Another reason the NHL may hold off on B’s-Habs until Saturday night is television. The biggest TV enterprise in North America for hockey is CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” and it can be assumed that, with all the hype going into this series, CBC would do everything they can to make sure Boston-Montreal is slotted for prime time on Saturday night.
Even if the Eastern Conference's Round 1 does end on Tuesday night, meaning the East's second round could conceivably start on Thursday, it’s unlikely that the Bruins-Habs Game 1 would be scheduled for then. CBC could still get Game 2 for their “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast in this scenario, but then the TD Garden would be faced with what could be a very long hockey game Thursday night and an early Friday morning start for Northeastern’s commencement, a turnaround that may be logistically impossible.
So, long story short, fans could be waiting a while for the 34th playoff meeting of the Bruins and Canadiens to finally get underway.