Bruce Cassidy may have played a little mind game with Boston Bruins players, all in the spirit of making the unfamiliar more familiar.
And for good reason.
The Bruins took the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Saturday for a 3 p.m. ET practice after a string of five practices beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET. It was prompted as Cassidy wanted to get players on the ice closer to the time they will play two round-robin games, and potentially others in the playoffs.
“I think guys are very used to playing at night, our exhibition game will be at 7 o’clock at night, but our two games after that are at 3 and 4 (o’clock), so we’re trying to prepare for the round-robin first and then depending on the time frame there may be an opportunity in Toronto, but you’re assigned practice times there as well,” Cassidy told reporters on a Zoom call after practice.
“I think guys are used to playing at night, they’ve done it their whole lives. I think that’s one where routine will come back fairly quickly. I always thought the 3 and 4 o’clock ones were more difficult because it’s right in the middle of the day, so it’s atypical of when you play.”
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy understood the idea and appreciated how the staff has been “mindful” of trying to change up the short-term routine to help them longterm.
“I think our coaches have been really mindful of our upcoming schedule and the situations that we’ll be going into. It’s good,” McAvoy said. “It’s something that will train us and get our bodies back into some afternoon stuff versus practicing every day at 9:30 (a.m.) or 11 (a.m) when we’re usually going out.
“It’s good and today is going to be a good day to get there in the afternoon and it’ll kind of train you into getting back into those afternoon schedule type games.”
Cassidy said while he wasn’t thrilled with the start of practice, and perhaps due to the start time, he was happy to see the B’s adjust and put another good skate together. It’ll be interesting to see how it helps Boston down the road.
Here are some other notes from Bruins’ practice Saturday:
— There was good news confirmed by Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on Saturday — David Pastrnak did not test positive for COVID-19.
The Bruins winger has not practiced since Wednesday, but Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, wanted to put an end to any speculation and told a few media outlets Friday that Pastrnak did not test positive. Cassidy approved the agent’s message, as it made the coach’s job easier after having to say “unable to participate” for the days prior.
“That’s what we’ve opened ourselves up to with the players. Him (Barry) coming out kind of put a nail in that coffin that he tested positive. That’s good news for us,” Cassidy said. “At the same time, he’s not with our group. We’d like to have him back.”
The NHL’s leading goal scorer also missed the first two days of practice as he fulfilled international quarantine requirements. Perhaps that’s why teammate Brad Marchand playfully jabbed Pastrnak for what he said was just a “couple day hangover.”
— The Bruins are entering the NHL restart with a sense of “urgency,” according to McAvoy. The blueliner explained the reasoning behind that Saturday, as well.
“You know, I guess like urgency would be kind of the word there. We understand where we are, how strong of a team we feel we have and what we’re capable of,” McAvoy said. “We don’t want to let any opportunities slip away. And this is a great opportunity for us. It’s an unprecedented situation with the format of everything, and how it’s going to go down, but it’s still an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. So, that’s kind of how we’re looking at it.
“And we want to make sure when we get out and play our first meaningful game that right from the start we’re in a good position and we’re going to be ready to go. Everyone’s excited. We understand the situation here, and what’s at stake and we all want to win. So we’re doing the right things right now and trying to prepare.”
— Cassidy admits the time period, and just skating in the hot summer months, feels different.
“It is weird,” Cassidy said. “You know typically, you’re golfing, you’re on vacation, your kid’s activities are completely different. You’re in swimming pools. In the winter it’s dark, it’s cold. It just feels like more of a grind. Right now you’re coming in and it’s light out. To me right now, that part of it is different.
“I think on ice, it all comes back then. You’re just back into what you’ve been doing. You’re running practice, you’re trying to keep the trains running on time, so to speak. … So, it is different, but like I said once you step back on the ice it all comes back to you and it should be that way for the games.”
— The younger McAvoy provided a great reason why he thinks he’ll be just fine in the NHL bubble. It has to do with his Xbox, his iPad and overall mindset when he begins playoff hockey.
“… But really when you?re in that zone and you?re just playing hockey and you know the importance of every single game, you?re just taking care of yourself every single day and you?re maximizing rest and recovery,” McAvoy said.
— Here were the lines for Saturday’s skate with Anders Bjork on the first line due to the absent Pastrnak.
#NHLBruins practice lines:
Marchand ? Bergeron ? Bjork
DeBrusk ? Studnicka ? Kuhlman
Nordstrom ? Lindholm ? Senyshyn
Blidh ? Frederic ? Carey
Chara ? McAvoy
Zboril ? Carlo
Grzelcyk ? Lauzon
Moore ? Clifton
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 18, 2020
— Here are a few photos from the session, as well.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 18, 2020
We’re another day closer to hockey, folks, despite the fact the Bruins won’t hold practice Sunday.