The Bruins knew going into this 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs that they were going to need to expect the unexpected, and they will get to live that reality right off the bat.
The Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes were forced to postpone their Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning/Columbus Blue Jackets game went to quintuple overtime before the two teams decided a winner six plus hours after they had dropped the puck. It was an epic game between the Bolts and the Blue Jackets that ended with Brayden Point winning it for Tampa Bay, and it pushed the Bruins and Hurricanes back to 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
The move will push the B’s and Hurricanes into back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday for the first two games of the best-of-seven series and provide the very unusual scenario of morning playoff hockey. Certainly, it will be unusual from the norm at Stanley Cup Playoff time, but in Bruce Cassidy’s estimation it wouldn’t have been fair to have an opening puck drop around 11 p.m. with ice already chewed up after over six hours of playoff hockey.
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“It’s obviously strange to wait that long and then learn that you may or may not play,” said Cassidy. “Then you ask [yourself] if it’s going to be productive to start playing at 10 at night and whether it’s going to be safe for the players. As a coach, you’re just thinking about how you’re going to prepare your players after they’ve been sitting for that long.
“The way this tournament is going, you kind of have to live with the scheduling including practice times and pregame skates not going the way that you’re accustomed to them."
Pushing through and playing the game no matter what Tuesday night wouldn’t have been the safest setting for the players, and it wouldn’t really have been fair in these most unusual of times. Given that the NHL crews need approximately 90 minutes between games to clean and disinfect at the bubble arenas, this might not be the last time this kind of thing happens in the first few rounds of the postseason.
“We want to play. Coming out of the round robin, we feel this is what we were getting ready for all season to be honest with you. It wasn’t just last week. We started in October building our game toward having another playoff run,” said Cassidy. “We put that out there openly and called it unfinished business. Now we’ve done the prep work over the last 10 days and the two weeks before that [in training camp] at Warrior, and we need to get going.
“It’s 16 teams, four rounds of seven game series…it’s your traditional playoffs. We’re disappointed we didn’t get to play tonight, but once the night drags on players start [asking] ‘are we going to play?’ and ‘Is this going to be happening?’ I think at 11 a.m. I think we’ll have the same emotion [on Wednesday]. I really believe that.”
So now everybody can get ready for two straight days of Bruins playoff hockey on Wednesday and Thursday, and another bizarre set of circumstances that the NHL is actively working through while trying to keep things as normal, and as fair, as humanly possible.