It’s been a major question among all sports leagues: How will having no crowd impact teams’ performances when play officially resumes?
The Bruins will experience that for the first real time Sunday when they take the ice in Toronto against the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston’s first round-robin opponent of the NHL restart.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and defenseman Charlie McAvoy, speaking with reporters via Zoom on Saturday, each explained how they see that playing a factor.
“Well, it’ll be interesting because as coaches sometimes the buildings are loud so you can verbally try to challenge players in terms of getting them going, getting them fired up. But with nobody in the building and everyone hears you, will coaches do that? Will they go down that road? We’ll see. We’ll see,” Cassidy said.
“… And as for guys on the bench, we have guys that talk more than others. I wouldn’t say we’re a loud group on the bench, in terms of rah-rah, but we talk about plays, guys will give guys a shout on the ice if they need to keep their head up near our bench, that type of thing,” Cassidy continued. “We ask certain guys to bring a little more of that if they’re not playing as much, and that could depend night to night, but in general, we do need a little more chatter to get us going.
“(Patrice Bergeron) will talk, but he plays a lot of minutes, (Zdeno Chara) is in the same boat. You need sometimes, the guys like (Joakim Nordstrom) and (Charlie Coyle), they’re more quiet by nature. Even (Chris Wagner), who is an energy guy on the ice, you sort of need everyone to bring that chattiness,” Cassidy added. “But we’ll see how it goes. The team’s that are able to manufacture that energy, especially when you’re down a goal, when you need that big hit, and a little bit of that going on, that’s where coaches and assistant coaches are going to have to sort of encourage the guys and a little bit more than they would when there is a packed house.”
McAvoy admitted while the best part of the playoffs is the atmosphere that the NHL will be without, he knows Boston’s leaders will establish a high level of energy.
“I think the playoffs, the best part about it and the whole experience is the atmosphere that surrounds it, the emotion, the passion of the fans and really just the entire setting. So, it is different this time around and you’re going to have to manufacture your own energy,” McAvoy said.
“Our leaders, they do a great job of always being vocal. And they always seem to step up at the right time. So, going into tomorrow, I’m not really worried about that. I know they have the right things to say and we lean on them and they come through for us in that regard.”
Here are some other notes from Saturday:
— Cassidy shared a positive update on Brad Marchand.
The Bruins winger left the Boston’s exhibition game after what seems to be a lower-body injury, but Cassidy said he thinks Marchand will be “100 percent ready to go” for Sunday’s contest.
— Tuukka Rask, on the other hand, isn’t as much of a definite.
The Bruins goaltender missed practice Saturday because he wasn’t feeling well, and thus was deemed “unfit to participate.”
Cassidy wasn’t yet sure if Rask would be able to go in the 3 p.m. ET puck drop, but noted goaltender Jaroslav Halak would be ready in case of his absence.
— Ondrej Kase was back on the ice with the team for the first time since July 15.
Cassidy said Kase wasn’t required to quarantine upon landing in Toronto, but he still won’t play Sunday. Kase didn’t dive into the details as to why he had missed extensive time, though.
— Here were the full lines and pairings, according to the team:
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk–David Krejci–Jack Studnicka/Nick Ritchie
Karson Kuhlman/Sean Kuraly–Charlie Coyle–Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom–Par Lindholm–Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara–Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug–Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk–Jeremy Lauzon
John Moore–Connor Clifton
One more night ’til hockey, Bruins fans.