Bruins

Bruins putting special focus on important "four-point game" vs. Sabres

torey_krug_jack_eichel.jpg
USA Today Sports Photo

Bruins putting special focus on important "four-point game" vs. Sabres

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The old cliché is that it’s “a four-point game” whenever divisional rivals get together during the regular season.

There’s no question it’s become a phrase that’s lost some of its meaning and oomph along the way with each and every usage, but the basic truth holds true: A regulation win against a direct competitor for a playoff spot is massive each and every time it happens. So a Saturday night matchup against a Buffalo Sabres team the Bruins are tied with in the standings is a big deal for several different reasons.

Both the Bruins and the Sabres are tied with 50 points apiece through 41 games, though the B’s have a three-game ROW (Regulation Overtime Wins) advantage over the Sabres right now. It’s the final time Boston and Buffalo will meet during the regular season, so it’s the last time for either team to try and push the other one down in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

“They’re important. It’s your best chance to climb up on teams in the division, especially when there are teams above you and you’re chasing them. You can really get it going and control things,” said Torey Krug. “It’s a very important matchup. It’s the last time we play them this season. It will be the last chance to really push them down in the standings, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

But it’s also one of the last few divisional games that the Bruins are going to have for a while, which means it’s one of the last stretches the B’s will have to create some real movement upward, or downward as the case could be, in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins have just three games against division opponents in January, and only one divisional game in February when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 28.

In fact, just 10 of the final 41 games in the B’s regular season are against Atlantic Division rivals, so that means there will be limited opportunities to really make big strides when it comes to the divisional race.

MORE BRUINS

“The second half starts [on Saturday], so for us hopefully we’re nailing down our overall game better,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Some of our guys that have been around for a long time might think of Buffalo as the old Buffalo, but things have changed. They’re a good hockey team.

“Maybe we’re seeing a little bit more of [a rivalry]. They’re young guys that are up and coming, and they’re competing for a playoff spot like we are right now. That allows it to be a rivalry right there. Toronto is young. Tampa is young. We play them four times a year, which is a little bit more than some of the other teams. It could be another natural rivalry like the one that used to exist in the old Adams Division. It’s good for hockey when teams are close, geographically or whatever, and they’re going after each other.”

The B’s sit four points behind the Maple Leafs and could conceivably catch up to them with a game against the Leafs in Toronto next weekend, but it’s more about creating space between themselves and both Montreal and Buffalo in the Atlantic Division. It looks like it’s shaping up to be nine teams vying for eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, and so all the points the B’s can muster against those teams are going to make a difference in the final few games of the regular season.

“We’re pretty much neck-and-neck with [Buffalo] and we understand that they’re a good team coming in. So we just need to treat it as a four-point game,” said Jake DeBrusk. “It’s going to be a hard task. We need to win that game in regulation. We all saw how it happened last year where it came down to the last game of the regular season against a division team. It always helps later on in the season if you can beat these teams.”

So what does all this mean?

It means the Bruins would be wise to have their game faces on when they take the ice for a classic “four-point game” against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.  

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stanley Cup playoff schedule 2020: Dates, Times, TV Channel, scores for every game

Stanley Cup playoff schedule 2020: Dates, Times, TV Channel, scores for every game

The start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is just a few days away.

The NHL's round robin and qualifying round series concluded Sunday, setting up all eight of the first round matchups. 

The qualifying round was full of surprises. Four of the eight series resulted in upsets, including the No. 12 seeds in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference winning their matchups against the No. 5 seeds. 

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

The round robin didn't lack unexpected results, either. The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy with the league's best record in the regular season, but they finished at the bottom of the East's round robin standings after three consecutive losses. The defending champion St. Louis Blues had the best record in the West during the regular season and also struggled in the round robin with a fourth-place finish (1-2-1 record).

Could we see a first-round upset involving one or both of last season's Stanley Cup finalists? Anything is possible in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here's the television schedule for every first-round series. Check back to this article each day for updated schedules and scores for all games (all times ET).

EASTERN CONFERENCE
FIRST ROUND

Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (12)
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m -- MTL at PHI (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Friday, Aug. 14 at 3 p.m. -- MTL at PHI (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 3: Sunday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. -- PHI at MTL (NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 4: Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. -- PHI at MTL (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at TBD -- MTL at PHI (TBD)
Game 6*: Friday, Aug. 21 at TBD -- MTL at PHI (TBD)
Game 7*: Sunday, Aug. 23 at TBD -- MTL at PHI (TBD)

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)
Game 1: Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2 (5OT)
Game 2: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 3 p.m. -- CBJ at TBL (NBCSN, SN, TVAS)
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. -- TBL at CBJ (NBCSN, SN360, TVAS)
Game 4: Monday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. -- TBL at CBJ (NBCSN, SN, TVAS)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at TBD -- CBJ at TBL (TBD)
Game 6*: Friday, Aug. 21 at TBD -- TBL at CBJ (TBD)
Game 7*: Saturday, Aug. 22 at TBD -- CBJ at TBL (TBD)

Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Islanders (7)
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. -- NYI at WSH (NBCSN, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Friday, Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. -- NYI at WSH (NBCSN, FX-CA, TVAS)
Game 3: Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12 p.m. -- WSH at NYI (USA, SN360, TVAS)
Game 4: Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. -- WSH at NYI (NBCSN)
Game 5*: Thursday, Aug. 20 at TBD -- NYI at WSH (TBD)
Game 6*: Saturday, Aug. 22 at TBD -- WSH at NYI (TBD)
Game 7*: Sunday, Aug. 23 at TBD -- NYI at WSH (TBD)

Boston Bruins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. -- CAR at BOS (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. -- CAR at BOS (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 15 at 12 p.m. -- BOS at CAR (NBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 4: Monday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. -- BOS at CAR (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at TBD -- CAR at BOS (TBD)
Game 6*: Thursday, Aug. 20 at TBD -- BOS at CAR (TBD)
Game 7*: Sunday, Aug. 23 at TBD -- CAR at BOS (TBD)

WESTERN CONFERENCE
FIRST ROUND

Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12)
Game 1: Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 10:30 p.m. -- CHI at VGK (NBCSN, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. -- CHI at VGK (NBCSN, SN360, TVAS)
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. -- VGK at CHI (NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m. -- VGK at CHI (NBCSN, SN1, SN360)
Game 5*: Tuesday, Aug. 18 at TBD -- CHI at VGK (TBD)
Game 6*: Thursday, Aug. 20 at TBD -- VGK at CHI (TBD)
Game 7*: Saturday, Aug. 22 at TBD -- CHI at VGK (TBD)

Colorado Avalanche (2) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11)
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 5:30 p.m. -- ARI at COL (NBCSN, SN360, TVAS)
Game 2: Friday, Aug. 14 at 2 p.m. -- ARI at COL (NHLN, SN360, TVAS)
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. -- COL at ARI (CNBC, SN360, TVAS)
Game 4: Monday, Aug. 17 at 5:30 p.m. -- COL at ARI (NBCSN, FX-CA, TVAS)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at TBD -- ARI at COL (TBD)
Game 6*: Friday, Aug. 21 at TBD -- COL at ARI (TBD)
Game 7: *Sunday, Aug. 23 at TBD -- ARI at COL (TBD)

Dallas Stars (3) vs. Calgary Flames (8)
Game 1: Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. -- CGY at DAL (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 10:30 p.m. -- CGY at DAL (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 3: Friday, Aug. 14 at 10:30 p.m. -- DAL at CGY (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. -- DAL at CGY (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 5*: Tuesday, Aug. 18 at TBD -- CGY at DAL(TBD)
Game 6*: Thursday, Aug. 20 at TBD -- DAL at CGY (TBD)
Game 7*: Saturday, Aug. 22 at TBD -- CGY at DAL (TBD)

St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (7)
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 10:30 p.m. -- VAN at STL (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 2: Friday, Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. -- VAN at STL (NHLN, SN, TVAS)
Game 3: Sunday, Aug. 16 at 10:30 p.m. -- STL at VAN (CNBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 4: Monday, Aug. 17 at 10:30 p.m. -- STL at VAN (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at TBD -- VAN at STL (TBD)
Game 6*: Friday, Aug. 21 at TBD -- STL at VAN (TBD)
Game 7*: Sunday, Aug. 23 at TBD -- VAN at STL (TBD)

*If necessary

Krug not changing his play style despite free agency looming

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy: 'We're disappointed we didn't get to play tonight'

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy: 'We're disappointed we didn't get to play tonight'

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.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

“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.