The threat of elimination might not hover over the Bruins until the NHL’s augmented playoff format is whittled down to 16 teams, but that doesn’t mean that Boston plans on simply shaking the rust off during the league’s scheduled round-robin tournament.
There’s still plenty to play for during the competition — which features the top four teams in each conference and will be held during the “play-in” round featuring 16 other clubs.
Even though some of the advantages of home ice will be negated due to neutral-site venues this year, the seeding at stake for these four teams in the round robin still holds significant sway — both in terms of determining last change and the perk of reseeding taking place after each playoff round this summer.
As such, the onus should be on the Bruins to fight tooth and nail to hold on to their No. 1 seed, given that Boston could make it all the way to the conference finals before having to square off against a club like the Lightning or Capitals in the best-of-seven series.
But it won’t come easy for the B’s, given that they need to sit atop the standings against the likes of Tampa, Washington and Philadelphia if they want to put itself in the best possible position for a deep Cup run.
As the Bruins looking to get Phase 2 underway in the coming days, here’s an early preview of how the Bruins match up against the rest of the field in the round-robin tournament. Let’s start off with the last club that they battled during the regular season — the Flyers:
Record: 41-21-7 (89 points — 2nd in Metropolitan Division)
Goals Per Game: 3.29 (7th in NHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 2.77 (7th in NHL)
Power-play Percentage: 20.8 (14th in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 81.8% (11th in NHL)
Bruins record against Flyers this season: 1-0-2
A sluggish start doomed Boston in this matchup at TD Garden, with a Flyers club on the second leg of a back-to-back slate tallying two goals in the first period — headlined by Travis Konecny lighting the lamp on a 4-on-1 rush.
While Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen eventually allowed Boston to escape with a point, Philly prevailed in the shootout — as Charlie Coyle, David Pastrnak and Marchand all failed to snap a puck past Carter Hart on all three of Boston’s chances.
Relinquishing a four-goal lead at home to the Panthers might stand as Boston’s worst loss of the 2019-20 regular season, but this one is right up there — as the B’s coughed up a three-goal lead in the span of just 19:46 of ice time.
Bruce Cassidy called Boston’s defensive effort “unprofessional” in the minutes following the loss, with Travis Sanheim securing the equalizer at 12:58 in the third after this less-than-ideal showing in front of Jaroslav Halak.
To add insult to injury, Boston once again came up short during the shootout, with Marchand capping off the loss by whiffing on a puck before even getting a chance to challenge Hart in net.