With a 10-day gap between their last preseason game and their regular-season opener Saturday against the Dallas Stars, the Bruins have had plenty of time to prepare.
Almost too much time, coach Bruce Cassidy said.
“I think guys get tired of practicing,” Cassidy said. “We have to be mindful of that, try to stay sharp but understand that I think it’s tough for the players.”
The Bruins haven’t played since last Wednesday’s preseason finale against the Washington Capitals.
“It’s kind of weird having a 10-day stretch between games,” Jake DeBrusk said. “We kind of missed some time playing our last game home there. So it’s one of those things where you just try to get prepared.
“But really excited, obviously hockey’s back on, so watched some games and get ready for the Garden.”
Flipping through the channels this week and finding games that count gave the players the sense that the season was truly underway even if they’re still waiting.
“Now the games are on TV at night, now it’s real,” Cassidy said. “So one more practice and away we go.”
DeBrusk doesn’t watch a ton of hockey during the season, but he always tries to catch the first game.
“It’s one of those things where it’s opening night, you see all the games being played, and it’s something that’s exciting,” he said.
Cassidy watched with curiosity to see how on-ice officials implemented new points of emphasis and which teams came out sharp.
“I watched Pittsburgh and Tampa the other day; it didn’t look like Tampa was ready — for whatever reason,” Cassidy said. “I understand they won the Cup, so I’m pretty sure you know why. There’s always typically a letdown.
“Watching Colorado-Chicago last night, Chicago didn’t look ready. Or it was just Colorado was so damn good early on. So that’s what I’m looking at, which teams are ready to play, because that’s what you want to make sure you are — ready to play.”
The extended runway to opening night might feel like an eternity, but Cassidy said once the season starts, there will be no looking back.
“I think once you get into it, you won’t even remember this break,” Cassidy said. “But hopefully it affects us in a positive manner in terms of our energy level. It’s like the first game of the playoffs sometimes. You get a break, now all of a sudden you’re amped up, ready to go.
“The first period doesn’t go your way and now you’re all rattled because you’ve been practicing your one-timer or whatever for 10 straight days and the puck doesn’t find you and then you lose your game.
“So we’ve got to just be mindful of staying in the game, let it come to us but yet dictate the terms of it, if that makes sense.”
Charles Barkley makes impression on TNT
One of the highlights of Cassidy’s Thursday night watch party was the “NHL On TNT Face Off” pregame and intermission show.
Charles Barkley, described in a Warner Media press release as “a passionate NHL fan,” joined host Liam McHugh and analysts Wayne Gretzky, Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter, and Paul Bissonnette.
Barkley brought the sense of humor that has made “Inside the NBA” a 15-time Sports Emmy winner, poking fun at the NHL’s former television partner Outdoor Channel.
“What was his line?” Cassidy asked. “He’s got more money than anybody and he still doesn’t have that channel. I thought it was an interesting quip.”
Overall, Cassidy saw the entertainment value in a cast of hockey legends, similar to the formula TNT follows for its basketball coverage.
“To have those old hockey minds, I grew up idolizing a lot of those guys and some I played with, so it’s kind of neat to see them talk, just telling stories and talking hockey,” Cassidy said.
“Not every fan wants to hear everyone’s role on a neutral zone forecheck. So you can break the game down and have certain analysts that are good at that. And other times it’s just good to have some guys that are really outstanding hockey players just talking hockey and telling a few stories.”
Jake DeBrusk wants third line to be reliable
DeBrusk has been able to quickly develop chemistry with new linemates Erik Haula and Nick Foligno.
Haula and Foligno both signed two-year deals in the offseason, and DeBrusk said they’ve each brought unique traits to the locker room.
“Two newcomers, but two leaders and two different guys as well,” DeBrusk said. “Erik’s really fast and he makes plays but he’s a smart player and he likes to talk and he likes to work. Nick’s kind of the same MO — a lot of good communication, really good player. He’s got a great release. It’s one of those things where I think we’re jelling off the ice really well.”
While DeBrusk has been used to being on the top two lines, he said the third line has the potential to exceed some expectations.
“I hope that we’re a reliable line,” DeBrusk said. “That’s the No. 1 goal for us three is we want to be obviously good defensively but I think we can do some damage too. We’re getting a little underrated here. It’s nice.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.