Bruins

Bruins d-men Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk both game-time decisions for Game 5

Bruins d-men Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk both game-time decisions for Game 5

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara reportedly suffered a broken jaw in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, and yet there's a real chance he plays Thursday night in Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues.

B's head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Thursday's optional morning skate that both Chara and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk are "game-time decisions" for the pivotal Game 5. Cassidy noted a doctor has to give Chara the green light first, then the 42-year-old defenseman can make his own call on whether to play. If the doctor says no, Chara won't go.

“They’re on the ice now, so that’s a good sign," Cassidy said. "We’ll see how they feel around 7-7:30 tonight.”

Chara and Grzelcyk both participated in Thursday's skate and did not wear non-contact jerseys. Grzelcyk practiced Wednesday in a non-contact jersey and hasn't played since he was knocked out of Game 2 on a dangerous hit from behind.

Cassidy said the Bruins are still considering dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen for Game 5. 

The Cup Final is tied at two wins apiece entering Thursday night's matchup at TD Garden.

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NHL announces hope to start Phase 2 on-ice practices in June

NHL announces hope to start Phase 2 on-ice practices in June

Hockey is now getting a little closer.

The NHL released a 21-page document on Monday that outlines Phase 2 of returning to play for each of the 31 NHL teams. Phase 2 is defined as “the transition period following self-quarantine.”

“Based on the current information available, we are now targeting a date in early June for a transition to Phase 2,” said the NHL in the lengthy memo. “However, it has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last. As we have stated repeatedly, the health of the Players and Club personnel is our top priority, and that will dictate how Phase 2, and any progression thereafter, may evolve.”

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There are plenty of fine details about water bottles, food restrictions, and other minutiae that NHL players would face in a normal practice setting, but the bottom line is that NHL teams will be allowed to start skating in small groups. The skating sessions will be non-contact practice, and all coaches, club employees, and other club-contracted representatives will be prohibited from getting on the ice with the small groups of players.

Phase 2 is expected to begin in early June and will see NHL players skate in groups of six at NHL practice facilities around North America with limited staff and interaction aside from getting their skating legs back in shape. If all goes according to plan, the NHL would move into a training camp phase at some point in mid-June or early July, and then move on to starting the 24-team playoff tournament at some point in July.

Interesting to note some of the finer points of the memo:

-- All players using public transportation (commercial flights, for example) to get back to their NHL cities must undergo the 14-day quarantine period before they can get on the ice.

-- All players are expected to undergo a COVID-19 test with negative results before getting on the ice for Phase 2, and the hope is that, if they are readily available, all players and club personnel will be tested twice weekly moving forward from the beginning of Phase 2.

-- Daily temperature checks two hours prior to getting to the practice facility, and then another temperature check upon entering the NHL practice facility to work out.

-- An isolated case of COVID-19 on any particular team would not necessitate that an entire NHL team go into quarantine as a result.

-- Players working out at the NHL facilities are prohibited from doing any other skating or workouts at any other facility once they join into the workouts with their team.

 -- Coaches and team personnel can begin to observe the skating sessions once A) a date for training camp has been announced by the NHL or B) two weeks have passed since the beginning of the Phase 2 practices.

Interesting stuff, to be sure, but the best news in all of this is that the Stanley Cup playoffs are one step closer to reality now that the Phase 2 rules and regulations have been released, and now it’s a matter of setting timetables in each of the 31 NHL cities to get the players on the ice.

Bruins Playoff Rewind: One brief moment of sunshine vs. Oilers

Bruins Playoff Rewind: One brief moment of sunshine vs. Oilers

Although it was a competitive series early on with the Bruins playing well in the first few games, this week marks the one and only victory the B’s recorded during the 1990 Stanley Cup Final against the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers.

In fact, it was the only win that the Black and Gold managed in facing the dynastic Oilers in two out of three seasons from 1988-90 when the B’s had Ray Bourque and Cam Neely in the very prime of their respective Hall of Fame careers.

The B's went into that Stanley Cup Final having won nine of their last 10 games while riding a ton of momentum, but they were then going up against a Wayne Gretzky-less Oilers crew that still counted Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Craig Simpson and Esa Tikkanen among their ranks on their roster. The Bruins had infamously lost Game 1 in triple overtime on Petr Klima’s stunning goal in the longest game ever played in Stanley Cup Final history, but they trailed 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after Andy Moog made 28 saves in a 2-1 win in Game 3 in Edmonton at the Northlands Coliseum on May 20, 1990.

The game was notable in that it was role players and goaltending/defense that guided them to victory rather than anything else.

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A 22-year-old John Byce (who scored two goals during that 1990 postseason run and two other goals in his entire 21-game NHL career) scored 10 seconds into the game to give the Bruins an immediate lead after they had dropped each of the first two games on the Boston Garden ice. Then Greg Johnston added to that lead with another first period score to give the B’s a 2-0 road lead over the stunned Oilers group.

The scoreboard remained 2-0 for nearly the entire duration of the contest as Moog stood on his head in Game 3 stopping 28-of-29 shots, but the Oilers did halve the lead in the third period when Tikkanen scored his 12th goal of the playoffs on the power play. That was it for the Oiler crew, however, as the Bruins clawed back into the series and gave B’s fans hope that they might be able to rebound from the early 2-0 deficit.

As it turned out, that was the last, best gasp from the Bruins before they collapsed in the series. They were held to one goal in each of the last two games in the five-game Cup Final and were outscored 9-2 as Simpson, Kurri and Glenn Anderson did most of the offensively heavy lifting while Messier was held without a goal in the series.

On the other side, the Bruins defense was touched up in a big way by the explosive Oilers attack with Greg Hawgood, Don Sweeney and Gary Galley combining for a rough minus-15.

Boston’s best chance to dictate the series would have been to find a way to capture Game 1 at the Garden while riding their momentum from the previous three rounds of the playoffs. But a 21-year-old Glen Wesley famously missed an open net in Game 1 and it came down to the little-used Klima drawing the dagger goal in triple-OT.

Credit where it’s due, the Oilers effectively held everybody down on the B’s offensively aside from captain Ray Bourque, who led the B’s with three goals and five points along with 27 shots on net in the five games. Cam Neely was the only other Bruins player with even more than 12 shots on net (he had 24) in the five-game series as the B’s supporting cast was effectively shut down by the Oilers aside from Game 3.

There were not a lot of good moments for the Boston Bruins during the late May dates in Stanley Cup playoff history, but at least this was one was the fleeting feeling of victory 30 years ago amidst a lot of losing against the Oilers.