The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning theoretically should have fresher legs Saturday afternoon when they return to the ice at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for Game 4 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs series.
The B’s and Bolts had been slated to resume their second-round battle Friday night — two days after Tampa Bay demolished Boston 7-1 to take a 2-1 series lead — but the NHL postponed its playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday, a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing protests related to racial injustice and police brutality.
Of course, it’s a level playing field, as both teams are dealing with the same schedule change. The reality is the overall on-ice impact of playing Saturday at noon ET instead of Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET might be minimal.
But hey, there’s an extra sleep involved. And with how much Tampa Bay outplayed Boston on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back, it’s fair to wonder whether the NHL’s brief pause will affect the Bruins or Lightning, either positively or negatively.
“I mean, obviously you have more time,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters Friday during a video conference. “I’m a hockey coach, so my brain is always typically on with regards to the Bruins and what we need to do better and what I can do better, players, different things. It’s just, I think most coaches would tell you that. You need to shut it off periodically, and (Thursday) it was shut off for a while.
“But yes, we’re back focusing on (the series) — this morning we practiced, we went through some video. But I thought — I started thinking about it in the third period and right after the game (Wednesday) — that we need to have a different plan of attack. Or not so much a different plan of attack, but alter areas of our plan of attack so we can expose some weaknesses in Tampa, because there is not very many of them.
“So yes, a day away from the rink probably helped everybody in terms of their physical conditioning, as well, because we just finished playing three (games) in four (days). Playoff hockey, it’s that much tougher on your body. I think the players had a physically refreshing day, but a mentally challenging one.”
Obviously, there are far more important issues going on in the world, hence this week’s postponements, which began Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic. With the NHL resuming play Saturday, however, neither the Bruins nor the Lightning can afford to overlook Game 4.
Game 5 is scheduled for Monday night, and Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will take place Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.