Last night the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs officially started with a slate of games in various time zones. You had the Pittsburgh Penguins slaughtering the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 in the east, the Winnipeg Jets almost letting the Minnesota Mild take the game because everyone is just so polite up in our neighbor to the north (3-2), and the Vegas Golden Knights showing everyone just how they roll in the desert with that opening ceremony that NBCSNPDQWTFBBQETC had to ruin by reminding us that there are hockey players waiting backstage. Here is some excellent pregame ceremony footage.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 12, 2018
By the way, if you want to know how Flyers captain feels about that game…
Giroux: “That was one of the worst games I’ve been a part of.”
— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) April 12, 2018
Tonight, the Bruins start their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Garden. While Rick Nash and Sean Kuraly look to be good to go, third line center Riley Nash is still not skating and will miss this first game.
“It hurts,” said Cassidy on playing without Nash. “He’s a guy that filled in a lot of different spots. The spot we need him in right now or where he would have been is third line center.”
Cassidy noted the variety of roles that Nash has filled for the team over the course of the season.
“We lose a guy on the penalty kill that did a good job for us. A faceoff guy. I thought he was a good anchor on that line for [David] Backes and [Danton] Heinen…He’s an underrated guy that does a lot of little things well that we’ll miss.”
With Riley Nash out, Noel Acciari will center the third line and possibly split duty with David Backes, who is also known to play center.
The practice lines from yesterday indicate that Ryan Donato may start the playoffs on the bench. Just because he starts there doesn’t mean he’ll stay there.
#NHLBruins practice lines:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Rick Nash
Heinen – Acciari – Backes
Schaller – Kuraly – Wingels
Donato – Gionta
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Miller
Grzelcyk – McQuaid
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 11, 2018
This season is notable for the roles that the many bear cubs have embraced o each line and pair. Playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their first season must be exciting and nerve wracking. Luckily, the Bruins have a core that has been there before and knows how to guide and advise them.
“I think it’s the approach that you have towards it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You have to embrace the challenge, you have to be ready for it. You have to expect a different style of hockey. When you’re ready for that, it doesn’t really matter as long as you bring it every night. We’re there to help them and bring them along. It’s up to everyone to do their part.”
“Playoffs, it’s a different league. You have to keep your emotions in check,” added David Krejci, twice the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ leading scorer. “Everybody is going to be excited, the building is going to be going crazy. Just be excited, but have your mind in the game and focused on the next shift.”
It is all sound advice, which the playoff newcomers are making sure to soak up as quickly as they can.
“I think they’ve kind of been a lot more vocal recently, in the last couple days, just making sure that they use their experience as much as they can, just trying to help us out,” Grzelcyk said of his veteran teammates. “It’s obviously greatly appreciated. Anything they say we’re going to take very seriously, they’ve had those experiences and they’ve won the ultimate prize. It’s great to have them around, I’ve been really fortunate.”
It’s going to be great fun to watch it all unfold.
ARE YOU EXCITED?