Bruins' fast start to 2019-20 season could be good sign for playoffs

Scott McLaughlin
May 28, 2020 - 6:30 am

The reality is that no one knows how each NHL team is going to look if and when the playoffs get going. No one has any experience returning from a four- or five-month break and jumping right into the postseason after a few weeks of training camp.

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But there are some reasons to be optimistic about how the Bruins might look when they get back to playing games. If you’re looking for examples of getting motivated and ramped up and showing mental toughness after a challenging break, how about what the Bruins went through last offseason?

There’s no tougher way to go into an offseason than losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, especially on home ice. Not only do you have to find a way to get over that loss, but you also have less time to recover mentally and physically before the start of the next season than every other team.

It would’ve been more than understandable if the Bruins got off to a slow start this season and took a little while to really get back into the swing of things. Instead, not only did they get off to a good start, but they got off to the best start in the NHL, storming out of the gates with an 11-1-2 record.

It’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison -- again, nothing is -- but it’s one that Bruins president Cam Neely thinks holds some water, especially given that what motivated them in October and all season long -- that they had unfinished business -- will still be what motivates them now.

“There’s a lot to be said for that,” Neely said. “I think if we were to look back at where we ended, Game 7 loss, to where we finished up at the pause, it says a lot about the team and the players and how they prepared in the offseason, how they prepared all year, literally right from the start of the year and for the most part, all year, very, very consistent. They’ve all always looked at it as, ‘We’ve got some unfinished business,’ so I assume that’s what they’re still thinking about.”

Neely says one of the reasons the Bruins were able to bounce back from last year’s Cup Final loss, and one of the reasons he’s optimistic they’ll be able to start strong now, is that the team has great veteran leadership with the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug, as well as a coaching staff that will make sure the team is prepared.

“I’m hoping leadership plays a big role just once everyone’s together,” Neely said. “Knowing Bergy, Z, Tuukka, Torey, Brad, those guys, they’re going to get the others ready. The others know what to expect from that leadership group and they know what to expect from themselves and from the coaching staff.

“My hopes are that they will recognize that we’re going in essence from a training camp to the playoffs, which is unusual as we all know. I think the experience of having to ramp up that quickly, the guys can lean on the older players for that. There’s a little bit of comfort in knowing these guys have some experience, not necessarily in that, but in what it takes to get yourself ready in a short period of time.”

Of course, none of this guarantees anything, but if you’re looking for signs regarding which teams might be better-equipped to handle this return, it’s not a bad place to start.

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