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KEVIN PAUL DUPONT

Why has Bruins-Canadiens schedule been such a secret?

There will be playoff hockey again at TD Garden . . . but when? Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

There will be playoff hockey again at TD Garden . . . but when?

The Bruins and Canadiens will meet in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Yet here in the who, what, where, when, why, and how world of totally reliable information, that’s really about all we can confirm.

All other details are on the hush-hush, the low-down, the I-could-tell-you-but-I’d-have-to-beat-you-with-a-hockey-stick level of secrecy.

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That last part is a tiny stretch. Not knowing the schedule is hardly a call to assault. Maddening, yes. Stupefyingly frustrating, you bet. A crime against hockey? Nah. It just feels that way. Especially if you’re holding a couple of tickets to the best-of-seven-series opening night that will be . . . wait for it . . . TBA!

For that matter, we can’t tell you whether it’s going to be an opening night. It could be an opening afternoon. A matinee. How’s that for certainty? A weekend matinee, of course. But maybe not. Subject to change. Certainly subject to guesswork, not unlike, you know, taking a stab at the over/under on how many face-washes Brad Marchand will deliver to P.K. Subban’s kisser the next four, five, six, or seven games.

Rumors ran faster and stronger than Affirmed for much of Tuesday that Game 1 would be Saturday afternoon, if NBC wanted to show it as a prelude to the Kentucky Derby. Thankfully, we know the Derby post time is exactly 6:24 p.m. They don’t keep horses and jockeys hanging on start times. No way. The jocks are too hungry and the horses too ornery to be left stewing in the paddocks, playing the waiting game.

Working backward from the Run for the Roses start time, and some prerace banter from Bob Neumeier, that could put puck drop at the Garden at, say, noon. Or, say, 1 p.m. Or, say, whatever time is needed to play a hockey game (usually 2½ hours) and immerse oneself in full Derby spirit by downing a couple of homemade mint juleps.

Anyone waiting for the Bruins-Habs schedule probably started pounding mint juleps Monday, at least based on some of what’s come across my Twitter feed the last day or two.

“Bought ticket and have to work 10-2 Saturday!’’ wrote maryellen_sb. “Before you take peoples $$$ put the schedule out next time!’’

Schedule? Who said anything about a schedule? Eastern Conference semifinals, Montreal-Boston, times and dates . . . TBA.

We’re all on the NHL’s time here, and it’s a sport that is built around a clock that runs backward. Should we expect any difference now? If the clock reads, say, 8:42, the real time is 11:18. That’s hockey, divided in 20-minute segments, the clock never reflecting the true time. It’s just another idiosyncracy that true hockey krishnas love.

The Bruins departed TD Garden early Saturday evening, following their 4-1 series win over the Red Wings, knowing yet another date with the Habs awaited. Tremendous. The Hub of Hockey loves this storied matchup. We could hardly wait.

Turns out, yes we could. We could wait, and wait, and wait some more.

That was 3½ days ago, nearly the time needed to drive cross-country (more than enough with legendary Globe speed demon Fluto Shinzawa at the wheel). But here we are, stuck between the moon and Montreal, wondering what in the name of Rejean Houle is going on around here.

Game on! Maybe.

One initial concern was Northeastern. NU has its annual commencement ceremony set for the Garden first thing Friday morn (students report at 8:30 a.m.). Word around Causeway Street for days was that the place had to be shut down all day Thursday to set up for the happy Huskies to be handed their sheepskins. No way of playing Thursday night.

Not true. According to Garden president Amy Latimer, reached Tuesday afternoon, the Garden informed NU early this week that the set-up could be delayed until after the Bruins and Habs play . . . wait for it . . . Thursday night. If that is the case, NU administration and the Bull Gang would rush the floor Thursday night, postgame, and work through the night to make the place commencement-friendly.

“It does take some time,’’ said a totally calm and collected Latimer, her serenity much too cool for such a hot topic du jour. “You know, it entails a stage, cover the ice with subflooring, a podium . . . but nothing we can’t handle.

“If the league wants us to play Thursday, we told them, ‘We play Thursday. No problem.’ ’’

In fact, said Latimer, the Garden is ready to go whenever it gets its orders from NHL headquarters in Manhattan. She said it’s all a go for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Whenever. Games 1 and 2, right here, right now, the doors ready to fly open faster than a Danny Paille breakaway.

On the Montreal end, which slightly affects how the league schedules the first two games in Boston, nothing can be played at the Bell Centre next Monday or Wednesday. The New Forum is booked Monday for Lana Del Rey and Wednesday for City and Colour. They sound like concerts to me. Could be home-and-garden shows for all I know.

I checked with my 17-year-old son, who confirmed they’re singers, and informed me I like Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.’’ I guess. I gave up caring about groups when Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young left the building.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the league still yet to issue an official schedule, a pal of mine on the TV side of things told me that Games 1 and 2 were, sure thing, Thursday and Saturday.

Finally, a breakthrough. Impeccable source. Fit perfectly with what Latimer told me. I would blast this to the Twitter heavens, pop it on bostonglobe.com.

“Cool,’’ I texted back. “Any idea on start times?’’

“TBA,’’ wrote back TV contact. “Because Minn-Chi still in play.’’

TBA. Brutal.

I flipped on CNN, sure that they would be on it. “BREAKING: Montreal-Boston, the NHL series gone missing. Who stole the Eastern Conference semifinal schedule?’’ But nothing. If CNN isn’t chasing non-stories, it’s a non-story. Sort of.

Then came the Internet report from Canada, my French-speaking pals at ever-reliable rds.ca. They had it nailed: Thursday and Saturday in Boston; Tuesday and Thursday in Montreal. All in French, of course.

A tweeter for a Boston-based sports website picked it up immediately, but misinterpreted the dates, then had to issue another tweet to correct the dates. As my old pal Will McDonough here at the Globe would have said, “Are we talking French here, or what?’’ Uh, yeah.

Moments later, my TV pal wrote back to confirm Game 1 on Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Game 2, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. The NHL would only confirm Game 1 — Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

So there it is, Bruins fans. The long, excruciating wait appears to be over. Bruins and Habs here Thursday (for sure) and Saturday (likely). Book it. We couldn’t be any surer than if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said it himself. If only he would.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.
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