The Boston Bruins (0-3-0 round-robin) will begin the games which really matter on Wednesday morning. The four-month delayed 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin with Round One, Game One against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday morning. The Hurricanes swept the New York Rangers in their best-of-five Qualifying Round series, while the Bruins largely blew off the three-game round-robin tournament for top-four seeding and lost all three games.
In this re-seeded format, Carolina is the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite having the best regular-season record in the NHL and winning the President’s Trophy, the Bruins fell to the fourth seed.
Puck drop is set for 11:00 am on NBCSN, NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
PUCKS AND EGGS
The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes waited and waited on Tuesday night, but never got to take the ice. That’s because the Tampa Bay Lighting and Columbus Blue Jackets went into a fifth overtime period in their Game 1 matchup. The Lightning eventually won on a Brayden Point goal by a final score of 3-2.
As a result, the Bruins and Hurricanes were postponed to this morning at 11:00 am. As of this time, there are no other changes to the schedule. That means the Bruins and Hurricanes will still play Game 2 on Thursday night and Game 3 on Saturday at 12:00 pm.
“NOW WE START REAL HOCKEY”
The Boston Bruins weren’t overly concerned with their 0-3-0 record in the round-robin. Why? Without a home-ice advantage which includes playing at home and staying at home, the importance of seeding was significantly less. Players openly admitted that the fun begins now, with Round One of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It really doesn’t mean anything,” Brad Marchand said. “Those are preseason games. Let’s call it what it is.”
He wasn’t the only Boston Bruins player who treated the round-robin as a kind of ‘preseason’.
“It’s over now. Now we start real hockey,” Tuukka Rask said on Sunday after the club’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
That’s not to say that the Bruins didn’t put an effort in, or that these games didn’t show anything. If anything, they allowed the Bruins to get back into a rhythm. They allowed the Bruins to improve their game and shake off the rust.
“We got better defensively against good offensive teams in Tampa and Washington,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said on Sunday. “We tightened up there structurally. I thought we got through the neutral zone well the last few games, better offensively so that’s starting to come. Guys that have been there, obviously those stakes are still in the ground. You look at our top line, they’ve been held off the scoresheet. I believe that it’s going to be a tough task for Carolina to do that on a consistent basis. I think that those guys will be able to get their game going.”
THE $$ LINE
NHL betting is extremely popular right now. After a terrific regular season, it should be no surprise that the Boston Bruins are the betting favorite in this series. The Bruins are -139 favorites in Game 1, while the underdog Hurricanes carry odds of +185.
The Bruins are +425 to win the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning (+350) and Philadelphia Flyers (+250) in that regard.
RASK, PASTRNAK EXPECTED TO PLAY
David Pastrnak and Rask did not skate on Monday for the Bruins in Toronto. Both players were described as “unfit to participate” by coach Cassidy. There is no panic regarding the absences, however.
“Unfit to participate. Expect to be on the ice tomorrow,” Cassidy told reporters after the skate.
This is not the first time both Rask and Pastrnak have been absent from practice since Phase 3 of the NHL Return and training camp began back on July 13. However, while Pastrnak has missed more practices, only Rask has missed game action, not suiting up for the Bruins’ round-robin opener and a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on August 2nd.
Karson Kuhlman skated in Pastrnak’s place on the right-wing with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Jaroslav Halak took the starter’s net, while Dan Vladar was the second goalie on the ice. Vladar served as the backup in that round-robin tilt with the Flyers eight days ago.
HELLO, OLD FRIEND
The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes are quite familiar with each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last May, the sides met in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final. The Bruins swept the series, winning their third Conference Championship in eight years in Raleigh.
Prior to that meeting, the Bruins and Hurricanes last met in the playoffs in 2009. That year, the top-seeded Bruins fell to the sixth-seeded Hurricanes in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Hurricanes would go on to get swept in the Conference Final by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who later won the Stanley Cup.
When the NHL went ‘on pause’ in March, the Bruins were the top seed in the East. The Hurricanes? They were sixth, the exact same spot as in 2009.
In 1999, the Bruins knocked out the Hurricanes in six games. It was the first-ever meeting between the sides after Hartford Whalers moved to Carolina. Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe had a shutout in Game 6 to preserve the win for the Bruins.
The sides had two playoff “Battle of New England” series in the 1990s. The Bruins eliminated the Hartford in seven games in 1990, then in six games in 1991.
BOSTON BRUINS LINES
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Boston Bruins lines are subject to change. Kuhlman skated in Pastrnak’s place on Monday, while Par Lindholm was the extra forward on the ice. John Moore and Connor Clifton skated as the extra defensemen, while Dan Vladar was on the ice in Rask’s absence. Cassidy confirmed on Tuesday that Grzelcyk will return to the lineup while Clifton sits.
Although not confirmed, Rask is the expected starter in Game 1 for the Bruins.
CAROLINA HURRICANES LINES
Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter – Vincent Trocheck – Martin Necas
Warren Foegele – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams
Brock McGinn – Morgan Geekie – Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei – Joel Edmundson
Haydn Fleury – Sami Vatanen
Carolina Hurricanes’ lines are subject to change. Mrazek isn’t the confirmed starter, but he did get the start in Game 1 of the Hurricanes best-of-five series against the Rangers. Dougie Hamilton could draw into the lineup, but is still uncertain (unfit to participate). He will take the warmup and a decision will be made then, per Rod Brind’Amour. He missed the entirety of Carolina’s series against the Rangers.