The Boston Bruins have spent about two weeks inside the NHL’s “bubble” in Toronto.
They’ve played four games — an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and three round-robin games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals — and will begin their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
So, what has the experience been like so far?
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Monday shed light on how his team’s been handling the unique environment.
“We?ve gotten over the hump in terms of filling days and sort of finding our playoff mode,” Cassidy explained during a video conference with reporters. “You feel a different energy around the room today about us starting (the first round), so that?s a positive, we need it to translate (Tuesday).
“Filling the days, I think guys with kids have seen a lot of them FaceTiming every day. I know my kids are in hockey and baseball. They have an app called ‘GameChanger,’ so I can certainly follow Cole?s games on that. And then it?s a lot of watching a lot of other teams play. I know for me, I?m a fan of the game. I watched Columbus and Toronto (on Sunday night), it?s an elimination game. A lot of the Eastern Conference games along the way. Less so in the West. And that?s it.”
It must be weird for players and personnel to have so much downtime in a confined area. Such is life as the NHL navigates the rest of its 2019-20 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and the Bruins, like every other team, are finding ways to keep themselves occupied when they’re not playing hockey or preparing for what they hope is another run to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I?m a USA TODAY newspaper guy, and The Globe. They have neither of those here, so I think it?s The Globe and Mail from Toronto or national paper. There?s a New York Times, I believe,” Cassidy said. “There?s a golf simulator downstairs. There?s pickleball on your free day. There?s a gym. There?s physical activities you can do. And that?s it.
“Now, I think you?ll see the focus shift for every team in this hotel more on the day-to-day playoff atmosphere. You?re playing every second day, you?re recovering on your day off — getting treatment, maybe a quick skate. I think the toughest part of being in the bubble is probably over in terms of killing time. Missing your family will never end for any player here or coach or trainer, for that matter. So that?s just something that each individual deals with on their own.”
Well, it could be worse, right?
The Bruins lost all three of their round-robin games and will enter the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 4 seed as a result.