Bruins

Bruins vs. Leafs Game 1: Why David Backes as a healthy scratch is right move

Bruins vs. Leafs Game 1: Why David Backes as a healthy scratch is right move

We still don't know the official Boston Bruins lineup for Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, but at this point, it would be pretty surprising to see David Backes among the forwards selected.

Taking a veteran player out a playoff lineup as a healthy scratch always is difficult, especially for someone like Backes. The 34-year-old winger is a tremendous leader, plays the type of physical hockey B's fans love, and has 67 games of postseason experience on his résumé. 

Still, making him a healthy scratch absolutely is the right decision by Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy (assuming that's what ultimately happens). Cassidy said Wednesday he doesn't think there will be any surprises when the lineup is announced Thursday.

Here are the forward lines from Wednesday's practice. You'll notice Backes was the extra right wing on the fourth line.

Brad Marchand--Patrice Bergeron--David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk--David Krejci--Karson Kuhlman
Marcus Johansson--Charlie Coyle--Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom--Noel Acciari--Chris Wagner/David Backes

This Bruins-Leafs series should feature plenty of hitting, but there's going to be a ton of speed on the ice, too. This series also features two of the highest-scoring offenses in the NHL. Toronto scored the fourth-most goals during the regular season, while Boston ranked 11th. Special teams is going to be pivotal as well, particularly when Boston's third-ranked power play is on the ice against Toronto's 18th-ranked penalty kill. 

Backes doesn't bring a ton of speed, and his offensive production (seven goals in 70 games) was disappointing this season. He's neither a key member of the penalty kill nor an essential part of the power play's success.

Backes' skill set just isn't a great fit for how this Bruins-Leafs series likely will be played. This doesn't mean he won't factor at all in the playoffs. If the Bruins advance, a different opponent could present certain situations where Backes could be effective. Injuries always are a burden in the postseason, and those setbacks could open up opportunities for players who are sitting as a healthy scratch. 

But at the moment, the best possible lineup for the Bruins entering Game 1 doesn't include Backes. Luckily for the B's, you know Backes is going to handle it like a true professional and do whatever he can to help his teammates.

Experts make their picks for Bruins vs. Leafs>>>

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Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

After the Boston Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games in the Eastern Conference Final, they were awarded a lengthy rest period. In fact, they ended up with the longest pre-Stanley Cup layoff in NHL history. They will be out of action for 11 days before they begin Game 1 of the Cup Final on Monday, May 27.

Despite the long layoff, Bruins players haven't seemed concerned about it. And goalie Tuukka Rask is among them. Rask wasn't too worried about time off when asked about the potential effects it could have on him in an interview captured by the Boston Bruins Twitter account.

It’s only as big of a challenge I guess that you make it for yourself. I just practice when we practice and then take time off when there’s days off. I think that’s it. I don’t think about hockey every day, all day. I don’t think that’s gonna do any good. I just stay sharp on the ice, do the work you need to do and then play when the puck drops. That’s about it.

That's a good attitude to have, and it's easy to see why Rask is so confident. So far this postseason, Rask has been terrific, logging a 12-5 record, a .942 save percentage, and a sterling 1.84 goals against average. But time off could impact his rhythm so the team will look to keep him sharp in the coming week.

Rask also addressed whether or not his teammates were actually giving him the silent treatment to avoid breaking his concentration.

No, I think they're just joking around. I've never really seen that.

Even if the team had been giving him the silent treatment in-game, it's unlikely that they would be able to continue that for 10 days ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. It's simply too much time to totally ignore a teammate.

Cassidy: Bruins leadership group 'second to none'>>>

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Stanley Cup odds 2019: Here's where Bruins stand vs. Sharks or Blues

Stanley Cup odds 2019: Here's where Bruins stand vs. Sharks or Blues

The Boston Bruins have an unprecedented 11-day break between their Eastern Conference Final-clinching win over the Carolina Hurricanes and Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The B's know when (May 27)  and where (TD Garden in Boston) they'll open the  Cup Final, but they don't yet know which team will oppose them for the best trophy in sports.

The St. Louis Blues likely will be the opponent -- they lead the San Jose Sharks 3-2 entering Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday night. But oddsmakers already have made up their minds when it comes to the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are the clear favorites at -145.

Check out the full odds, via Caesars Palace in Las  Vegas, in the tweet below:

These odds make sense.

The Bruins deserve to be favorites over the Sharks or Blues. Boston has more talent and a lot more Stanley Cup-winning experience than either of these two Western Conference clubs, and B's goalie Tuukka Rask is the best player at his position remaining in the playoffs. Let's not forget the Bruins have home ice advantage as well.

The Blues' goaltending and overall scoring depth probably would create a tougher for the Bruins than the Sharks, but St. Louis just doesn't have the elite-level talent or experience to be favored over Boston in a seven-game series.

Bruce Cassidy pays Bruins' leadership group a huge compliment>>>

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