The NHL is back, and the Bruins are set to resume their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Here’s a timeline provided by the club:
Monday, July 13
– Bruins training camp began at Warrior Ice Arena
Sunday, July 26
– Bruins travel to Toronto (where the Eastern Conference bubble is located)
Tuesday, July 28 – Thursday, July 30
– Exhibition games
Sunday, Aug. 2
– Round robin game vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Wednesday, Aug. 5
– Round robin game vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Saturday, Aug. 8
– Round robin game vs. Washington Capitals
Tuesday, Aug. 11
– First round of Stanley Cup Playoffs begins
Tuesday, Aug. 25
– Second round of Stanley Cup Playoffs begins
Tuesday, Sept. 8
– Conference Finals begin
Tuesday, Sept. 22
– Stanley Cup Final begins
Friday, Oct. 9 – Saturday, Oct. 10
– 2020 NHL Draft
Here’s what to know as Boston looks to make it back to the Finals for the second straight year and capture its first championship since 2011.
They’ll start with a round-robin.
The Bruins finished the shortened regular season with the best record in the NHL (44-14-12). They’ll begin their second season with a round-robin in Toronto that also features the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers.
All four teams will have a bye, and they’ll play one another once to determine playoff seeding. The Bruins will start with a matchup against the Flyers on Sunday, Aug. 2 at 3 p.m., then they’ll face the Lightning on Aug. 5 at 4 p.m., followed by the Capitals on Aug. 9 at a time to be determined.
Chara, asked where his head is at:
"I honestly just try to stay where my feet are."
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) July 25, 2020
They’ll then face a team that’s already played in a best-of-five series.
While the Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy, are trying to earn the No. 1 seed, eight other teams from the Eastern Conference will be competing in a best-of-five series. As the Eastern Conference playoffs move along in Toronto, the Western Conference playoffs will do the same in Edmonton.
Teams will be reseeded after each round so the highest remaining seed faces the lowest remaining seed. The playoffs will proceed from there, in their set locations, then the Conference finals and Stanley Cup Finals will be played in Edmonton. If the Bruins make a deep run, they’ll have to travel nearly all the way across Canada.
They’re one of the favorites to win it all.
According to OddsShark, the Bruins have the second-best odds (+600) to win it all, behind the Lightning (+550) and ahead of the Colorado Avalanche (+700).
They’ll follow strict COVID-19 protocols.
Every person of the close to 52 personnel from each team will live inside a bubble and will be tested daily for COVID-19. They’ll also undergo daily temperature checks and symptom screenings.
As the NHL notes in a recent memorandum, individuals who might have direct or indirect contact with NHL teams will be tested daily. “Any person inside the Secure Zone who tests positive will immediately be isolated,” the release notes.
The Bruins had an unidentified player test positive back in June, but it appears that they will enter the bubble without any current cases on the team. According to the Bruins, the player was tested twice more and results were negative.
They’ll undergo one last round of testing before they go. As of Thursday, the NHL reported zero positive tests for COVID-19 over the week.
It’s unclear at this time whether handshake lines will take place the way they typically do.
Gary Bettman, asked on a Zoom call who will ultimately decide if someone cannot play:
It's him, but he "will not be making the medical decisions, I'll be taking the guidance."
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) July 24, 2020
David Pastrnak is expected to be there.
David Pastrnak, who finished the regular season tied for first in the NHL in goals (48) and tied for third in points (95), should be able to fly with the Bruins on Sunday.
He missed the first two days of training camp due to coronavirus quarantine rules after returning from the Czech Republic. He has since been “unfit to participate,” outside of one practice, but it appears he’ll be present in Toronto.
Nick Ritchie is also expected to travel, but Ondrej Kase is an unknown. Kase was deemed “unfit to play” and has missed all of the Return to Play camp. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
Per Bruce Cassidy, 10 defensemen and four goalies will be on their 31-player list. Two of their forwards will not go to Toronto.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@FlutoShinzawa) July 25, 2020
Brad Marchand thinks the hockey will be sloppy.
Brad Marchand isn’t too optimistic that the quality of play will be what fans are accustomed to – at least to start.
“I think it’s going to be really sloppy hockey, to be honest with you,” Marchand told reporters. “We’ve been off for four or five months, whatever it’s been, and it takes more than a couple of weeks to get it all back and be at the top of your game. And the ice conditions are not going to be good. So I just don’t think it’s going to be great hockey.”
He did acknowledge that everyone will be dealing with the same unusual circumstances, which will level the playing field, however, it may take some time to get back to normal after the long break.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@FlutoShinzawa) July 24, 2020
There’s a sense of urgency entering the playoffs.
After coming tantalizingly close to winning it all last year, before falling to the St. Louis Blues in seven games, the Bruins enter this year’s playoffs with a chance to do something special.
It’s possible the roster will change in the offseason, and the players believe there’s no better time than now to complete the task they’ve come tantalizingly close to. Defenseman Torey Krug, who is eligible to become a restricted free agent, is ready to make a run at it.
Said Krug: “It’s no secret this could potentially be the last run I have at winning the Cup with this group.”
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