While the Bruins wait to see who they'll play in the Stanley Cup Final, they're faced with a new kind of challenge: what do we do with all this free time?
Between their Game 4 win over the Hurricanes and Game 1 of the Cup, the B's have 10 days to kill. Yes, players dealing with nagging injuries will have time to get better. But on the other hand, the Bruins are on a seven-game win streak and are rolling.
Bruce Cassidy has a plan.
"We have a plan on how we're going to go through this week, balancing practices with days off," said Cassidy after Sunday's practice. "We are going to meet with the veteran guys who've been through it. We talked about scrimmaging. Will we do it at night? Prepare like a game or have it in the morning? We'll talk to people outside the organization."
In his press conference Saturday, GM Don Sweeney hinted that a possibility outside the team would be the New England Patriots, which would make sense. Before Super Bowls, there's a two-week period in between.
But even though the Bruins are red hot, Sweeney likes what the layoff brings for his squad.
"In the short term, it's really beneficial for our group," he said. "We've been pedal to the metal here, mentally and physically, for a while. I do believe in the short term it will help us a lot. Then it's incumbent upon us to simulate the best we can with what's going to be required going forward."
Cassidy acknowledges the positives and negatives of the long layoff.
"I think it's inevitable we'll have some rust but rest is the positive part of it," he said. "We'll get after it quick, when we do get after it. If San Jose or St. Louis ends Tuesday, they're sitting around for six days. Is there a big difference between six and 10? At the end of the day, both teams will be rusty if it goes six. If it goes seven, they might have that competitive edge for the first game."
Torey Krug doesn't think much of the layoff.
"I think people are making a bigger deal out of it than we are," he said after Sunday's practice. "It's something that as long as our individual players are sharp, if we're sharp, then I think collectively we'll be sharp as a group as well. I think we have to stay mentally sharp."
Fellow defenseman Matt Grzelcyk likes the recovery aspect of the layoff.
"I guess we're just trying to figure it out on the fly right now," said Grzelcyk regarding how to handle the mistimed vacation. "Obviously it's quite a lot of days off, but it's nice to get a few days to let your body recover. But, I think mentally you just want to watch the games. I'm sure we'll all watch the game [Sunday] just to get an idea of which team we might be playing."
Out of all the Bruins players, the most questions surround Tuukka Rask's ability to stay hot during the 10-day break. His save percentage of .942 and goals-against average of 1.84 aren't stats the Bruins want to put a halt to.
"Clearly we'd like to run him right back out there, the whole group," said Cassidy of Rask. "We'll talk to him too. He knows what's in front of him, he's been around. He's a good pro. He'll have to figure out for himself how to get dialed in each day so that come next Monday, he's at where he feels at 100% dialed in."
Even with the outside resources, Cassidy knows what his main source of information on how to handle a layoff will be.
"At the end of the day, my biggest resource will be the players who've been through it," said Cassidy. "How do they see it going forward? What's their plan? What's their experience? And go from there."
The last three times the Bruins swept their opponent in the Conference Finals (2013, 1990, 1977), they've went on to lose the Stanley Cup.
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