"A little bit of concern" for Bruins ability to rebound after Stanley Cup Final loss

"A little bit of concern" for Bruins ability to rebound after Stanley Cup Final loss

BOSTON – The wound is still fresh for the Bruins after dropping Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues almost two months ago.

But the Black and Gold are moving on to next season with little more than a month until training camp begins in Boston, and beginning to game plan for the concerns facing the team this upcoming season. There is still an open question about any top-6 forward upgrades that the Bruins might be looking for going dry offensively in the postseason at times last spring, and key RFA defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo still remain unsigned.

But perhaps the most pressing issue facing the Bruins is a possible slow start to the season based on their run to the Stanley Cup Final a few months ago.

The Bruins played an additional 24 games after the grueling regular season, including pushing to seven games in both the first round and the Cup Final against the Blues. The season ended on June 12 and that’s going to be a difficult turnaround for players on the wrong side of 30 years old like Patrice Bergeron (34), Zdeno Chara (42), David Krejci (33), Tuukka Rask (32) and Brad Marchand (31) as they try to get ready for training camp in September.

That’s a big concern for the Bruins in the midst of summer break while game-planning for training camp, the regular season and what they hope will be another lengthy run in the Stanley Cup playoffs beyond that.

“I feel like this summer is a little bit of ‘How are we going to be prepared for next season?’ That’s a little bit of a concern after going that late [into the year] and then losing,” said Bruins President Cam Neely, in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston. “Guys are feeling a little bit behind because they’ve got to take a few weeks to get healthy before they can start ramping it up again [in offseason training]. I think they feel like they’re a few weeks behind on the conditioning front because you’ve got to take some time to rest and recover.

“We have such great leadership and character that they’ll be ready to go. But it’s just different playing October games than late June games.”

The bad news for the Bruins?

There is truth to the Stanley Cup hangover myth over the last 15 years with a high percentage of teams unable to make it out of the first couple of rounds the year after pushing all the way to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The Bruins serve as an example themselves as they were a first-round casualty in 2012 after winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, and then got dunked in the second round by the Habs in 2014 after their Cup Final loss vs. the Blackhawks in 2013.

So what can the Bruins do about it this coming season?

Well, it already sounds like they are going to go very slow with older players like Chara, Bergeron, Krejci and Rask when it comes to training camp. The Bruins are also already managing workloads for players like Chara and Bergeron given the heavy burden they carry during the regular season, and they brought in Jaroslav Halak to make certain that Rask doesn’t get overworked during the year.

Expect all of that to continue with perhaps even guys like Chara, Bergeron and Krejci to get the occasional game off, or at the very least extra time to heal any bumps and bruises that crop up during the regular season.

All that being said, the Bruins already expect there will be fatigue issues next season that they’ll need to keep a close eye on after playing almost 100 hockey games during the 2018-19 NHL season.

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Boston mayor Marty Walsh sends letter congratulating Blues superfan Laila Anderson on Cup win

Boston mayor Marty Walsh sends letter congratulating Blues superfan Laila Anderson on Cup win

The Boston Bruins weren't able to dispatch the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. The series went seven games and despite having home-ice advantage, the Bruins fell in Game 7 by a final score of 4-1.

The championship was the Blues' first in franchise history and the 2019 Cup Final was their first appearance in the championship in 49 years. So, needless to say, winning the championship was a big deal for the city. And, it certainly was for superfan Laila Anderson as well.

Anderson, 11, suffers from a life-threatening autoimmune disease and drew the attention of the Blues during their championship run. She was at Game 7 and was also involved in the team's championship parade. And recently, she received a letter congratulating her on the Blues' win. That letter came from Boston mayor Marty Walsh.

Here's a look at the letter, per the NHL on NBC Twitter account.

This is a very decent gesture by Walsh. Anderson was certainly an inspiration for all during the Stanley Cup coverage, and even though the Bruins couldn't win, seeing her celebrate with the Blues certainly was a silver lining for Bruins -- and hockey -- fans everywhere. 

And as Walsh mentioned, Boston has had plenty of success with championships lately. So, while the Bruins' recent loss was a tough one, Boston still has plenty to be proud of and a couple of championship trophies to defend.

Bruins, Blues near the top of Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings>>>

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Cassidy: Bruins "don't have a regret" about pre-Final scrimmage despite Brad Marchand injury

Cassidy: Bruins "don't have a regret" about pre-Final scrimmage despite Brad Marchand injury

BOSTON – Amid the raft of injuries divulged by the Bruins a few days after losing the Stanley Cup Final was a sprained hand for Brad Marchand.

The Bruins left winger admitted that he re-aggravated a hand injury in the Thursday night scrimmage game at TD Garden ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. It was a play that happened in the first half of the scrimmage when Connor Clifton backed into Marchand and clearly caused him some discomfort in his left hand. Marchand returned to the scrimmage and didn’t miss any time due to the hand injury, but it also seemed like his usual Velcro handle on the puck wasn’t what it normally is while he was nursing the injured hand.  

Marchand struggled with just a couple of goals in the seven-game Stanley Cup Final series, and made a key mistake in the first period of Game 7 that ended up putting the decisive game out of reach for the Black and Gold. So it wasn’t a banner series for No. 63 perhaps in part due to the hand injury suffered by Marchand, and that naturally begs the question of whether the Bruins had second thoughts about holding that scrimmage their 10-day waiting period for the Stanley Cup Final to start.

Not so says head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“I thought [the scrimmage] would be a good one in some way shape or form. How it played out after that, to try to replicate getting back into game mode, getting to the rink, morning skate, video, whatever, rest in the afternoon and come to the rink. That’s a risk. I said it at the time that there’s always a risk involved. There’s a risk in practicing at 11:00 on, that was a Thursday, I believe, Thursday morning,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re going to have some battle drills. I don’t think you can go 10 days without some level of battle. You’d hope the players are smart enough to keep the battle...avoid contact from behind, all of the things where guys get hurt.

“I don’t have a regret [about the scrimmage], to be honest with you. Our job was to be ready for Game One. I felt we were. We got to our game in the second period. We won the game. We wanted to make sure we didn’t get behind in the series, take us a couple games to catch up. I don’t know. Only Brad can tell you how much it bothered him. At the end of the day, I didn’t think that week had a big factor in the playoffs. Had we started slow or got out of the gate and got up two, three, nothing, you can point to either way. But, it’s 1-1 after two, so probably wasn’t a big factor what we did at all that week. It’s more what happened later in the series.”

It’s certainly true that the latter games of the series were where the Stanley Cup Final was won and lost, but through beginning to end in the series it never felt like Marchand was his normal self against the Blues. It’s true that he could have been just as easily hurt during a morning practice rather than an evening scrimmage, but that’s not how it played out for a Bruins team that came up a little bit short when it mattered most last week. 

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