Bruins

Brad Marchand fought through groin, oblique, hand injuries during Stanley Cup Final

Brad Marchand fought through groin, oblique, hand injuries during Stanley Cup Final

The Boston Bruins appeared to be banged-up during their Stanley Cup Final series against the St. Louis Blues. And on Friday, confirmation was given that one of their biggest stars was dealing with a handful of injuries.

Per NBC Sports Boston's Joe Haggerty, Brad Marchand was dealing with groin and oblique injuries as well as a hand sprain that he re-aggravated in the team's scrimmage ahead of the Cup Final.

The most discouraging part of this development is that Marchand did, in fact, suffer an injury in the scrimmage. That little tune-up was supposed to help the team, but the fact that it banged-up Marchand a little bit certainly isn't good news.

In the series against the Blues, Marchand logged five total points and posted a rating of minus-2 across seven games. He made a critical decision in Game 7 of the Final to skate to the bench for a change with 10 seconds left in the period. That resulted in the Blues' second goal which turned out to be the game winner.

Marchand will now have the offseason to recover from these injuries. But, this will at least explain why his performance was lacking a bit during the Final.

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NHL announces 24-team return format; here's what fans need to know

NHL announces 24-team return format; here's what fans need to know

The NHL is taking concrete steps toward resuming the 2019-20 season and eventually awarding the Stanley Cup.

An important step came Tuesday afternoon when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a 24-team return-to-play format.

Here are the basics of the 24-team format:

A total of 10 cities are being considered for the two hub cities that will host the remainder of the season.

Here's the timeline in the return to play plan, per the league:

--Phase 2: Early June
In early June, it is expected that teams will be permitted to return to home facilities for small group, voluntary, and on- and off-ice training.

--Phase 3: Not Earlier than First Half of July
Not earlier than first half of July, formal training camps will begin after guidance from medical and civil authorities.

--Phase 4: Timing TBD
24 teams in 2 “hub” cities will compete in Seeding Round Robins, a Qualifying Round and Conference-based Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Now, let's talk about the playoffs.

The top 12 teams in each conference based on points percentage will resume play.

The top four teams in each conference automatically clinch a berth to the first round of the playoffs and will play round-robin games to determine their playoff seeding for the first round. Regular season overtime/shootout rules will apply to these round robin games, and any ties will be broken by regular season points percentage.

The remaining eight teams in each conference will play in a Best-of-5 qualifying round. The four winners will advance to the first round of the playoffs. These qualifying round games will be played using playoff overtime rules.

Here are matchups for the Eastern Conference, followed by the Western Conference:

Here are some other important playoff details:

--When the qualifying round is over, the remaining rounds will be set up using a bracket format, or each round will be determined by seeding. A decision on which style to use hasn't been made yet.

--The first and second rounds of the playoffs could be a Best-of-5 or a Best-of-7. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be a Best-of-7.

The 24-team format means the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings are done for the 2019-20 season.

Given the unique nature of the situation, there isn't one format that would benefit all 31 teams, but what the league announced Tuesday is a pretty good plan toward finishing the season and crowning a champion.

Plenty of other details must be sorted out before games can resume, but this announcement is a positive step. 

2020 NHL Playoffs: These 10 cities are possibilities for hubs when play resumes

2020 NHL Playoffs: These 10 cities are possibilities for hubs when play resumes

Tuesday afternoon, hockey fans saw a rarity: Gary Bettman talking on television without getting booed.

Of course, nobody else was there when the NHL commissioner announced plans for the league to hold the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but just the news of the sport's planned return should be enough for hockey-starved fans to cheer.

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Once safety guidelines allow for play to resume, 12 participating clubs from each conference will report to one of two hub cities where all remaining games will be played.

Commissioner Bettman did not announce which cities would serve as the league's hubs, but he did announce that the league has narrowed the options to the following 10 cities:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Edmonton, AB
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Toronto, ON
  • Vancouver, BC

The decision on which two cities will be selected will depend on "COVID-19 conditions, testing availability, and government regulations" according to Bettman.

The league has not yet announced dates for the playoffs or the exact format for how the field will be narrowed from 24 teams down to the eventual two teams that will play for the Stanley Cup, but any glimmer of information about hockey's return is great news for a sport that has been on hold for two and a half months.