On March 7th, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning played a spirited contest that had everyone excited about a potential playoff series. On Wednesday, over four months later, the sides will meet again. This time it will be in Toronto, without fans, in a round-robin matchup for seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Regardless of the different circumstances, head coach Bruce Cassidy believes this matchup will bring out the best in his group.
“Well, I hope it does,” Cassidy said when asked just that. “Certainly I saw how their game yesterday went. Very physical, very spirited with Washington. They’re developing a rivalry. Obviously, with us and Tampa, I expect a lot of the same tomorrow. It’s going to be physical, competitive. Again, we’re trying to build our game every time out, we’re gonna need to be if we’re going to beat Tampa, so looking forward to it. I think the guys are too.”
The Bruins have yet to play their best hockey in the Toronto bubble. After a 4-1 loss in their exhibition game last Thursday to the Blue Jackets, the Bruins fell by an identical score in their round-robin opener. They have just two goals in as many games, and will change things up on Wednesday.
Part of the struggle is finding your legs. Part of it, according to Bruce Cassidy, is mental. There’s a balance of urgency and preparation that must be found.
“It’s a tough mental part right now,” Cassidy said. “You don’t know who your opponent is going to be next week. You still want to pick up wins, but you’re balancing that, your urgency and your preparation for your first playoff opponent. Tomorrow should be a great test for us, bring out the best in us.”