BOSTON — Bruce Cassidy has found one unexpected benefit of the time off before the start of the Stanley Cup Final.
“In terms of our preparation we’re kind of looking at two teams,” the Boston Bruins coach said of the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues after practice Sunday. “And we’ve already started cutting some of it up, so 50 percent’s going to be wasted. So we’re going to be really good next year against either St. Louis or San Jose the first time we play them.
“But that’s just what it is. We have free time, so we’re used to doing pre-scouts, so for me it’s business as usual. You’re just looking at two different teams.”
The Blues and Sharks are tied 2-2 in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final heading into Game 5 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Before Sunday, the Bruins hadn’t been on the ice since they finished off a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in the Eastern Conference Final. The Cup Final starts May 27.
Bruins forward David Backes may have a slight rooting interest: He played 10 seasons for the Blues before signing with Boston as an unrestricted free agent in 2016. But any sentiment is fleeting.
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“I’m certainly checking on it first thing in the morning, see who won the night before. A lot of good friends on that St. Louis team,” Backes said. “Even series, back and forth, it was impacting when we were going to start until it went 2-2. So that sort of interest is out of it and now we’ve got our schedule kind of set for what we’re going to do to be ready for Memorial Day Monday and be ready for Game 1. Now it’s who’s our opponent. And, yeah, wishing St. Louis well, but once our opponent’s picked those well wishes will be rescinded and it’s on.”
Watching the Blues and Sharks play might help the Bruins as much as practices and meetings.
“You look forward to when they’re on TV and it’s fun being a part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and just enjoying hockey,” defenseman Torey Krug said. “It’s the best part of the year, and you watch the desperation, you want to keep yourself in check, making sure you realize how desperate teams are to win this time of year. We’ve done it time and time again, but with all this down time, I think it’s important to watch.”
The Bruins have set their schedule to split work and rest leading up to the Final.
“Well we have a plan how we’re going to go through the week, balancing practices with days off,” Cassidy said. “We are going to meet with the veteran guys that have been through it, see how that jives. We’ve talked about scrimmaging, would we do it at night, prepare like a game, or even in the morning? We’ll talk to some people outside the organization. I don’t want to get too specific with that because then they get brought into it, see how they’ve handled it, at least the mental side of it.
“I think it’s inevitable you’re going to have some rust, but the rest is the positive part of it. I think we’ll get after it quick when we do get after it.”
Defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara, who missed Game 4 against Carolina because of an undisclosed injury, skated with fellow injured defenseman Steven Kampfer (undisclosed) prior to practice, but neither player joined the full squad. Center David Krejci was given a maintenance day.
The Bruins hope to have all three practicing with the team this week.