It will be about a week and a half since Boston last played a game, but to keep busy, Boston Bruins fans have been busy searching for reasons that their team will win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972.
In between avenging their three first-round ousters by the Montreal Canadiens in the past seven seasons, Stanley Cup of Chowder dug deep into the National Hockey League history books and found some similarities between the 2008-09 Bruins and the 1928-29 version:
• Both teams finished with the best regular season record in their division or conference.
• Both teams swept the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.
• Both teams had a goaltender with the initials T.T. who made a name for himself. (Tiny Thompson/Tim Thomas).
• Both teams played defense-first style (Allowed 52 goals in 44 games/won Jennings Trophy with 196 goals allowed).
• Both teams had a dominant defenseman (Eddie Shore/Zdeno Chara).
People typically talk about how a long layoff affects the players in-between series, but what about fans?
Oh, the perils of a sweep.
As the Bruins sit and wait to see who they will be facing in round two (either the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, or Pittsburgh Penguins), the layoff question may not affect them as many would suggest. Back in March, after a quirk in the schedule gave them five days off, Boston reeled off five wins in a row, something head coach Claude Julien has kept in mind:
"You're going to give the guys a chance to rest, but when you do practice, you have to practice well. You've got to stay sharp, you've got to stay focused. That's what we had in that week in March. We got some rest and it allowed us to fine-tune our game. We're going to take advantage of it. And while you might not like to have as long of a rest, you make the most of it and turn it into a positive."
Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog sees the layoff as a negative...for whoever Boston will face:
"However, there are two things -- beyond the fact that the time off has allowed the Bruins' bumps, cuts and bruises to heal -- that work in the Bruins' favor as they inch closer to the end of practicing in playoff purgatory. First is that their next opponent will either be coming off a similarly long break or an exhausting seven-game series. If the Bruins welcome New York or Carolina to TD Banknorth Garden for a series-opener, the Rangers and Hurricanes might still be riding their high from triumphing in a do-or-die game on the road. But usually that high wears off after about a period, and the subsequent low usually makes a team look like it hasn't had its morning coffee for a few days.
In the case of Pittsburgh, the Pens wrapped up their series Saturday afternoon. So they'll have been off for almost a week when/if they arrive in the Hub. When you're talking about layoffs, once you get past three or four days, they're all the same no matter how many days they actually total."
If you're a Boston fan, do you have a preference on which team to face?
The Rangers are currently in a free fall and their number one goaltender has been pulled in consecutive starts. Carolina has rebounded strongly from each loss against New Jersey, but could a seven-game series take too much out of them ahead of the Bruins? Pittsburgh's depth is always dangerous, especially when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are producing at will; but what if Zdeno Chara and company shuts them down? Can their secondary scoring keep it up?
The Bruins will know their Round Two opponent tonight and while it's anyone's guess how Boston will play after the layoff, the only thing guaranteed is that the funny will be brought in a (hopefully) new set of commercials.