When the NHL released the schedule for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, many were asking the same question: Why in the world are there back-to-backs?
With many teams now out of the postseason, there will be just two series at a time being played in each hub. As a result, one would think you just stagger the series and there’s one game a day at each hub arena.
But that’s not so. And as it relates to the Boston Bruins, they’ll have two sets of back-to-backs in their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Games 2 and 3 will be played on consecutive nights, while if-necessary Games 6 and 7 will be back-to-back, too.
It’s not an insignificant development, as some teams approach their goaltending situation differently when a back-to-back is in the equation. Sure, not having to travel makes things easier, but it’s still a hurdle for all teams involved.
Asked to share his thoughts on the scheduling, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had plenty to offer.
“Very (challenging). A little surprised it came out that way, (why not just) alternate nights and play at seven or eight o?clock?” Cassidy said Saturday morning over Zoom. “I?m not part of that decision making but it sure would be easier for us, I?m sure Tampa would say the same. But, at the end of the day, you play the games where they tell you to play and what time. So for us, obviously the biggest challenge is the advantage we lost that we had in March with two healthy goalies. Now, Tuukka is not here so do we play Vladar as a backup, or do we have to ride Halak? That?s a lot to ask for Jaro. So that?s going to be a decision we’re going to have to make down the road. That?ll be the biggest challenge.
“I think as for our players, we have eight defenseman we feel can play,” Cassidy continued. “So, the depth part of it, three in four nights with a back-to-back, we can move different pieces in and we don?t feel that our game drops off significantly or at all when we move pieces around. We have the same luxury up front. But, if a guy gets a nagging injury and we start get those back to backs, he doesn?t have a chance to recover, that can work against any team. So those are the intangibles of it and the unknowns a little bit. Again, our guys will be ready to play and hopefully we don?t run into those scenarios where guys do need extra time to recover.”
Game 1 of Bruins-Lightning will be played Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.