The question on everybody’s mind right now when it comes to the Boston Bruins is “Who in the Bruins organization pissed off the NHL schedule makers?”
It’s the only reasonable explanation for a stop-and-start early season schedule that has perhaps been good for B’s players licking some wounds and healing up injuries, like Craig Smith, but has been terrible in terms of gaining momentum in the early season. We’re kidding, of course, but it sure feels like the B’s are getting the short end of the stick with the NHL schedule in the early going.
Last weekend was the perfect example as the Bruins seemed to finally gain a foothold in the momentum department with back-to-back wins over the Devils and Canadiens, and then found themselves with an entire week of before back-to-back games against the Flyers and Calgary Flames this weekend. It’s impossible to build momentum if there’s a four or five day break thrown in every time the B’s start to coalesce as a hockey club. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was trying to find the silver lining in it all earlier this week, but even he has voiced some exasperation in something that’s clearly out of his control.
“Earlier when we saw the schedule, we assumed we’d use it for some sort of rest even though we haven’t played a ton. The past week was a heavy week for us. Or [we would] revisit some details,” said Cassidy. “So that’s we did [on Tuesday] and [Wednesday] we did a little bit. I thought we had a good week of hockey. Obviously not the third period against Edmonton, we all acknowledged it and tried to move on and be better. I thought we were this past weekend.
“The players have a couple of community events they were planning, so the timing fell well for those activities as well.”
One of those activities was the annual Christmas shopping trip at Target for local children that will spending the holidays in the hospital, a fan favorite that also brings out the little kid in all of the Boston Bruins players.
I knew there was a reason I liked Jeremy Swayman. This is the Way pic.twitter.com/Ttxn3asUCN
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) November 17, 2021
But let’s be honest, this early regular season schedule for the Boston Bruins just plain sucks.
They played two games in the first eight days of the regular season, didn’t have a single exhibition game in the final 10 days of the preseason and have now had two other breaks of five days over the regular season’s first month as well.
Some of the early season schedule curiosity might have been for a potential season-opening trip in Europe that the Boston Bruins may have had planned, but got scrapped at some point due to the ongoing COVID challenges. That would explain the 10 days of practice without exhibition games headed into the start of the NHL regular season back in October.
But it’s also a bit of a mish-mash schedule during seasons with the Winter Olympic break, so that is always part of the calculus. But there doesn’t appear to be any other team with the same amount of time off in the first month as the Black and Gold, and it really defies explanation when it comes to finding a fair and balanced schedule for the 32 NHL teams.
The Bruins are going to get waylaid by the schedule in the final two months when they play 15 games each in the frenetic months of March and April and finish the regular season with 24 games scheduled in 45 days. That’s the kind of grueling finishing kick that’s going to take a chunk out of the Boston Bruins if they are indeed a playoff team or could completely drag them under with injuries and fatigue if it – as it looks like now – turns into a dog fight for the final few playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
As it is right now, they are two games out of a playoff spot with a ridiculous six games in hand on the Detroit Red Wings and with the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche for the fewest games played (13) to this point this season.
It feels like the Boston Bruins have this kind of schedule every season that’s backloaded with busy months of games headed toward the finish line, but this season feels like even more of that extreme for a hockey club that’s got a big challenge waiting for them in March and April.