BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins would love to play some hockey again. They just have to wait another full week before they take the ice for the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins took the practice ice at Warrior Arena in Brighton on Sunday for the first time since completing their sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes last week. They won’t host Game 1 of the Cup Final until next Monday, thanks to the drawn-out Western Conference Final between the Sharks and the Blues (St. Louis currently owns a 3-2 lead with Game 6 set for Tuesday night).
So the Bruins will do all they can over the next week to keep from getting rusty, though they understand that some rust is bound to happen on such a lengthy layoff. They’ll practice for two days before getting two days off, giving the team some much-needed rest before they start to play in the biggest games of the season. They’ll analyze video from the Western Conference Final, even though they know half of their homework will ultimately go to waste.
And head coach Bruce Cassidy has the luxury of a great resource section when it comes to dealing with such a long wait. Five of his current players (Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask) were part of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins who dealt with a long wait after their second-round sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. That group, along with Torey Krug, also found a way to make the most of their extra time during the 2013 run to the Cup Final after quick series against the New York Rangers (five-game win in the second round) and Pittsburgh Penguins (sweep in the East Final).
“At the end of the day, my biggest resource will be the players who’ve been through it,” Cassidy said. “How do they see it going forward? What’s their plan? What’s their experience? We are going to meet with the veteran guys who have been through it.”
When it comes to staying game ready, the Bruins will likely scrimmage against each other sometime over the next eight days. And it won’t be your usual scrimmage; Cassidy is going to do all he can to simulate a game-day ahead of the start of the Cup Final.
“We’ve talked about scrimmaging. Will we do it at night, prepare like a game? Bring them in in the morning,” said the head coach. “It’s inevitable that you’re gonna have some rust. The rest is a positive part of it. I think we’ll get after it quick when we do get after it.”
Good luck to the group that has to try to beat Tuukka Rask in the fake game.
While there is some concern among fans worried that the break will cool off the red-hot Bruins, the team isn’t fretting about the layoff too much. They’ll gladly take the rest to help with the bumps and bruises that come with a run to the Cup Final. And if the Blues win Tuesday night, they’ll have a six-day layoff to deal with, so the B’s don’t think the wait will hurt them too much when they play a real (and really important) hockey game again.
“If we can time it right, and through our coaches and leaders we’ll figure this out the right way, it will be the perfect combination of rest and a lot of hard work on the ice too,” said defenseman Charlie McAvoy. “We’ll get it right and make sure when Game 1 rolls around, we’re fresh.”
“The biggest thing is when you come to work, you come to compete. With the amount of time off we have here, we just have to work really hard when we’re on the ice,” said Marchand. “It’s a time to enjoy it too, we’ll be one of two teams left in a few days. We have to be excited about that, but can’t be satisfied.”
Boston practiced without captain Zdeno Chara on Sunday, who skated before the session after being a late scratch from Thursday’s Game 4 victory with an undisclosed injury. Cassidy said he expects Chara, and fellow defenseman Steven Kampfer, to practice with the team on Wednesday.