Bruins

Chara returns to Bruins practice, looks 'good' as he prepares for Game 1

Chara returns to Bruins practice, looks 'good' as he prepares for Game 1

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara took part in a long, spirited practice with the Bruins on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, and certainly looked like a guy who was going to be ready when the Stanley Cup Final gets going.

Chara missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final with an undisclosed injury, but skated ahead of Sunday’s practice before joining his teammates for a lengthy skate on Monday designed to keep the Bruins in shape a week ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. There didn’t appear to be much of anything wrong with Chara as he skated with the rest of his B’s teammates, but there was also nothing as of yet confirming that he’ll be in the lineup against either the San Jose Sharks or the St. Louis Blues next Monday night.

“[Chara] was good,” confirmed Bruce Cassidy. “He went through practice without any issues, so I think tomorrow will be a better day to see if he gets any stiffness or soreness. He’ll get some rest [on Tuesday] and get ready to go for Wednesday.”

Chara has been a workhorse during the playoffs with 22:31 of ice time per game along with a goal and three points in 16 games with a plus-11 rating, and it was a bit of a surprise to see the 6-foot-9 captain suddenly unavailable for the clinching game vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. Chara has taken several blocked shots to the foot area during the postseason and he’s certainly looked every bit his 42 years of age at other points in the playoffs.

“I’m taking it one day at a time. [Tuesday] is an off day and then we’ll get back on it Wednesday,” said Chara. “It was hard. I’m not going to lie. You’re watching [a playoff game] and you want to be playing. You want to be involved. For sure it was something where I was feeling that anxiousness to play, but guys did a great job winning the game.”

But he’s also undoubtedly still an asset as a shutdown D-man and a penalty killer who will benefit greatly from the 10 days off in between playoff games headed into next week’s Stanley Cup Final. Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s practice with a week ahead of Boston’s date with the Stanley Cup:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heine

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

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NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

NHL round robin, qualifying series schedule 2020: Dates, scores for every game

The NHL is officially returning to play.

The league and NHLPA ratified the Return to Play Plan and a new CBA deal Friday, paving the way for the 2019-20 season to finish. The regular season is over, but the league is not yet jumping into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The top four teams in each conference will determine their seeding for the first round by playing a round robin format. The teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 in each conference will square off in a qualifying round that will use a Best-of-5 series format. The four winners of the qualifying series in each conference will be matched up against the top four teams for the first round based on seeding.

These games will take place in two host cities. The Eastern Conference games will be played at Scotiabank Place in Toronto, and the Western Conference matchups will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Here's the schedule for every round robin game and qualifying round series. Check back to this article after each game for scores and updated schedules.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning 3, Bruins 2
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flyers 3, Capitals 1
Sunday, Aug. 8: Flyers 4, Lightning 1
Saturday, Aug. 9: Capitals 2, Bruins 1

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (No. 12) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (OT)
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
Canadiens win series 3-1

(No. 6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (No. 11) New York Rangers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1
Hurricanes win series 3-0

(No. 7) New York Islanders vs. (No. 10) Florida Panthers
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Islanders 4, Panthers 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Panthers 3, Islanders 2
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders 5, Panthers 1
Islanders win series 3-1

(No. 8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (No. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Game 5, Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND ROBIN
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 5, Stars 3
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights 6, Blues 4
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars 2, Blues 1 (SO)

QUALIFYING ROUND
(No. 5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (No. 12) Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Blackhawks 4, Oilers 3
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 2
Blackhawks win series 3-1

(No. 6) Nashville Predators vs. (No. 11) Arizona Coyotes
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2
Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 5: Coyotes 4, Predators 1
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Coyotes win series 3-1

(No. 7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (No. 10) Minnesota Wild
Game 1, Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0
Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3
Game 3, Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks 3, Wild 0
Game 4, Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks 5, Wild 4 (OT)
Canucks win series 3-1

(No. 8) Calgary Flames vs. (No. 9) Winnipeg Jets
Game 1, Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1
Game 2, Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2
Game 3, Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2
Game 4, Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames 4, Jets 0
Flames win series 3-1

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

Bruins vs. Capitals Overreactions: Power play struggles a concern entering playoffs?

The NHL round robin is finally over for the Boston Bruins, and soon their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final will resume.

The Bruins lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals on Sunday in their third and final round robin game. Boston dropped all three matchups and earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for their lackluster results.

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The B's will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. It's a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Final, which Boston won in a sweep.

Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Bruins vs. Capitals and assess their merit (All advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Lack of power play success is a concern
Verdict: Overreaction

The Bruins entered Sunday as one of four teams in the league's 24-team restart that still hadn't scored a power-play goal, and Boston wasn't able to change that fact against the Capitals. The B's went 0-for-2 on the power play versus Washington, leaving the Original Six club with an 0-for-9 mark on the man advantage through the three round robin games. 

So, why shouldn't we be concerned over the Bruins power play? Well, for starters, Boston had the second-best power play during the regular season at 25.2 percent. Only the Edmonton Oilers scored more power-play goals than the B's. The Bruins also have several players with high-end offensive skill to put on their player play units, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug. Boston's top line struggled in the round robin with zero goals and one assist, but when it inevitably heats up, the power play will benefit as well.

It's important not to take too much from a three-game sample size of the power play right after a four-month layoff. That said, the Bruins need their power play to be more effective in the first round of the playoffs if they're going to give themselves the highest possible chance at advancing. 

2. Bruins' round robin struggles will carry into Round 1
Verdict: Overreaction

The round robin was important, make no mistake about that. Even though seeding is less crucial than usual because home ice advantage is not a factor in the Toronto bubble, earning a high seed would still have been helpful in forging the easiest possible road to the Stanley Cup Final. The league will re-seed after each round of the playoffs instead of using a traditional bracket, so the No. 1 seed will play the lowest-seeded opponent in each round. 

The Bruins, judging by their comments and on-ice play, don't seem too concerned about seeding. In fairness, the most important things for the Bruins in the round robin were to get their legs back after not playing for a while and avoid injuries. The Bruins will enter Round 1 of the playoffs with a pretty healthy roster, and while their performance in the round robin was certainly less-than-stellar, they played better in the last two games compared to the awful 4-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers in the opener.

The next games actually matter, and for a veteran group with loads of playoff and championship experience, we should see a hungrier and more motivated Bruins team when the puck drops in Game 1 against the Hurricanes.

3. David Krejci line took an important step forward vs. Capitals
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Bruins' second line of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase played together for the first time in the round robin Sunday, and it gave an encouraging performance.

Overall, the Krejci line held a 10-5 advantage in shot attempts, a 4-1 edge in shots on goal and a 3-1 lead in scoring chances during 5-on-5 action against the Capitals.

Kase was making his round robin debut and made a nice pass to DeBrusk on Boston's only goal. Krejci also picked up an assist on the play.

This goal for DeBrusk was huge. The 23-year-old left winger had scored only one goal in his previous 16 games dating back to the regular season. Hopefully for the B's, this goal helps to spark some consistency in DeBrusk's game entering the playoffs.

Secondary scoring is going to be a huge factor for the Bruins in the postseason, and this second line will play a huge part in whether Boston generates enough offense to make a deep run.