This great Bruce Cassidy quote perfectly explains Bruins' road mentality

This great Bruce Cassidy quote perfectly explains Bruins' road mentality

The Boston Bruins are 4-2 on the road in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs after a 3-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 of their second-round series.

The win sends the Bruins to the Eastern Conference final, where they will take on the Carolina Hurricanes for the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup.

The Bruins were a decent road team in the regular season with a 20-15-6 record, but in the playoffs, Boston has improved its performance away from TD Garden. The B's have won three of their last four postseason road games, and overall they have a plus-8 goal differential on opposing ice.

B's head coach Bruce Cassidy was asked after Monday night's win about the importance of clinching the series before Game 7, and the bench boss explained the team's mentality, particularly on the road. Most teams just try to withstand the energy of the home team and its crowd early in road games, but the Bruins have taken the opposite approach, and it's certainly paid huge dividends so far.

"We needed to win the first 10 minutes," Cassidy told reporters. "I hear people saying they come into another team's building and 'We've got to weather the storm.' Well, we want to create the storm. We're not interested in weathering any storm. We want to go out and let them know we're here to play, be aggressive and assertive. I thought we did a pretty good job of that."

That is the perfect mentality for any team going on the road in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Setting the tone (either with physicality and/or the pace of play), scoring the first goal and taking the crowd out of the game is essential to winning away from home in the postseason, and the Bruins have done a tremendous job of that through two rounds. 

The Bruins, who own home ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs, will have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup if they stay true to this mindset on the road.

Crazy stat shows Patrice Bergeron's defensive dominance in playoffs>>>

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Bruins make statement leading with the words 'Black Lives Matter'

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Bruins make statement leading with the words 'Black Lives Matter'

The Boston Bruins joined the majority of NHL teams in releasing a statement on Tuesday concerning the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, and the ensuing unrest of protests, riots and calls for necessary change to our American society clearly at a crossroads.

The Bruins franchise obviously comes from a place of trailblazing diversity as they were the first NHL team to break the color barrier with Hockey Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree back in 1958.

In recent years, the Black and Gold have had several black players on their NHL rosters including Jarome Iginla, Gemel Smith and first-round pick Malcolm Subban, who shared this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tweet from his account a few days ago.  

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But Tuesday’s statement wasn’t about their own diversity or about anything really concerning the Bruins aside from a statement of recognizing what happened and the path forward that so many us can help forge for a better, more understanding world.

Credit the B’s for making an honest, pointed statement that starts with support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and calls out the abhorrent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis that set off protests all across the world.

Here’s the statement in full:

Black Lives Matter. Bigotry, ignorance and senseless violence in any and all forms is wrong. We are a hockey club, and sometimes it is hard to know when, where and how to comment on issues that challenge the freedom and well-being of our community. We want to be honest and we want to be accountable and we want to be leaders.

The abhorrent murder of George Floyd and similar events cannot be tolerated. We want to be part of change and we will lead with our actions. That has always started with treating all people with dignity and respect.

Credit players from across the predominantly white NHL too for stepping up and being part of the discussion, as thoughtful words from Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and former Bruins forward Blake Wheeler highlighted a willingness of hockey players to listen, learn and educate themselves to the plight of black people everywhere when it comes to vital tenets of our freedom like equal treatment and blind justice.  

Then there's Sharks left winger Evander Kane, who has eloquently and powerfully spoken out as a black NHL player about the work that both society and the NHL itself need to engage in to continue to live up to the credo that “Hockey is For Everyone” while encouraging his fellow NHL players to step up and be vocal.  

With statements from the Bruins, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics along with Celtics players like Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Enes Kanter taking the lead with their activism, the New England Patriots remain the only major Boston sports team that has yet to release a statement on an issue that’s been on everyone’s mind over the last week.

Many questions remain about risk and health as NHL talks return to play

Many questions remain about risk and health as NHL talks return to play

While the NHL made big news last week with the unveiling of its plan to return to play with a 24-team tournament expected to get going this summer — barring any unforeseen COVID-19 setbacks — there is still plenty to be hashed out.

The NHLPA and NHL will need to come to agreement on other aspects of the league’s return-to-play plan and teams will need to begin skating, practicing and preparing to play in the postseason tournament that’s still months away.

The NHL is expected to make a formal announcement that the 31 NHL teams can begin Phase 2 with small practice groups at NHL facilities sometime over the next few weeks, and the word is that NHL training camp won’t begin prior to a July 10 start date. This means we could be seeing Stanley Cup playoff hockey in August and September before a Stanley Cup is awarded to the winner of the 2019-20 NHL season sometime in the fall.

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The real question, though, is how safe it’s going to be for players, referees, team and league personnel and anybody else essential that’s involved to help make these NHL games happen in designated hub cities once they are up and running.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara acknowledged there is still plenty left to go when it comes to the issues of health and well-being while talking about a return to play with Bruins reporters last week.

“These are the questions that still need to be processed. After the approval of the format there are other steps that need to be gone over,” said Chara. “I’m sure this is one of those things that everybody needs to be aware of that the safety and health of players, staff, coaches and everybody working around [the games] needs to be taken care of. Those are the questions that will need to be asked and answered.”

Some NHL players like Leafs winger Mitch Marner already expressed concern about any NHL personnel with underlying health conditions like Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi, who has Type 1 Diabetes. Clearly there are also some older NHL coaches like Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville and John Tortorella who could be more at risk if a COVID-19 outbreak were to happen during these playoffs, and that doesn’t even take into account older NHL assistant coaches as well.

“I’m all down for starting everything up [with the NHL season again]. Let’s rock. [But] what if someone gets sick and dies? It's awful to think about, but still," said Marner of Domi, his former London Knights teammate, a few weeks ago during a video chat with fans. "There's dudes like [Max] Domi who has diabetes. If he gets it, he's in [a predicament]."

TSN 690 radio host Tony Marinaro admitted on an NBC Sports Boston Zoom call with James Murphy and yours truly last week that it’s a “scary” scenario for the Canadiens given their situation with players and coaches. It wouldn’t shock anyone if there may even be some hesitant players who opt not to return to play this summer depending on their individual health situations and concern level.

“I just got off the phone [on-air] about an hour ago with Dr. Leighanne Parkes, who is an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and I asked her about Max Domi. I asked her about Max Domi because as we know with this COVID-19 that it’s mostly the elderly that are losing their lives. But if there is somebody losing their life before the age of 80, then it’s someone with an underlying health condition. Max Domi is a Type-1 diabetic and that is scary and extremely dangerous.

“I asked her about the [21-page] document put out by the NHL for their health protocols [during the return to play] and she said it was a well thought out document. She said the NHL has covered most of the bases, if not all of them, and it was really well thought out. But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to individual choice, Max Domi’s individual choice. But it really is scary and it really is dangerous for a player with a pre-existing condition.

Even though the protocol is there and the document is there and they take all the safety measures, do you want to take the risk? Would I? No. Would you? Probably not. But if there is one thing our experience has shown us, we’re not wired like these [NHL players]. These guys want to play. I can’t speak for Max Domi, but if I were a betting man I’d bet that he would play.

Domi himself admitted it was on his mind while talking it over on a conference call with reporters a few weeks ago amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent NHL work stoppage.

"Being a Type 1 diabetic, it's something that raises some concern. But you really don't know how everyone's going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn't change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn't have [diabetes]," said the 25-year-old Domi, who is third on the Canadiens with 17 goals and 44 points in 71 games this season. "Everyone is affected by this in their own way. A lot of people have been struggling.

“A lot of people have suffered loss. It's been a really tough time for everyone, and you have to be sensitive to that. You have to understand that this is very real. People have gotten sick from this. People have died from this. All you can really do is do your part, stay at home, stay safe and be respectful of any rules that were put in place.”

The good news is that most teams, and subsequently most players, will be eliminated from playoff contention within the first few weeks of a Stanley Cup playoff return-to-play. The attrition of playoff rounds will quickly lessen the amount of people, both quarantined and coming into contact with each other, present at the hub cities.

A few shortened playoff series at the start of the NHL tournament could make that an even more expeditious process that’s as safe as it can possibly for everybody involved. But at the end of the day it will be about some level of risk for each and every NHL player involved.

It all boils down to a very personal decision — and it shouldn't be all that surprising if not every player signs up to assume that COVID-19 risk once play does resume.