Bruins will take on the Penguins this afternoon
With the city locked down and the MBTA switched off for much of the day, NHL hockey again went into cold storage in the Hub Friday, the 7 p.m. game between the Bruins and Penguins tolled ahead to Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
With a suspected Boston Marathon bomber captured Friday night, NHL officials said the makeup matinee will take place.
Club president Cam Neely was busy throughout the day trading phone calls with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Without mass transit, to be honest, it’s almost impossible to have a game, because many of the people with key jobs — ushers, off-ice officials, security — don’t have a realistic way of getting to the building,’’ Neely said Friday afternoon, before the second suspect had been taken into custody.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, Governor Deval Patrick declared the lockdown over and the MBTA reopened.
Friday’s postponement marked the third time the Bruins have had to reschedule a game this season, the second time because of the bombings.
It became clear, as the manhunt extended into midafternoon and beyond, it was not realistic to stage the game.
“There’s never been a time like this, obviously,’’ said Neely. “This is a year that probably will never happen again — let’s hope.’’
A huge snowstorm that dumped some 2 feet of snow in Boston forced a scheduled Feb. 9 game vs. Tampa Bay to be pushed to next Thursday. The game scheduled against Ottawa this past Monday was moved to Sunday, April 28, after the bombings on Boylston Street.
Provided the schedule isn’t interrupted further, the Bruins on Saturday will begin a stretch of six games to be played over nine days, culminating with next Sunday’s season wrapup vs. the Senators on Causeway Street.
Saturday’s game will be followed by another matinee, 12:30 p.m. Sunday vs. the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. The Bruins then face the Flyers Tuesday night in Philadelphia before returning to Boston for the makeup game against the Lightning Thursday. Following a day off next Friday, they’ll play the Capitals Saturday at the Verizon Center in D.C., followed by the last makeup vs. the Senators Sunday night.
Neither the Bruins nor the Penguins reported to the Garden all day, including for the traditional day-of-game workouts, which had the Bruins scheduled to practice at 10:30 a.m., followed by the Penguins an hour later.
“The safety of the people of Boston, the city of Boston, is most important for everybody,’’ Penguins general manager Fred Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Penguins players, housed at a downtown hotel, remained indoors throughout the day, most of them watching TV to keep up with the massive manhunt. The Penguins were scheduled to host the Sabres Saturday night in Pittsburgh. That game has been moved to Tuesday.
On Saturday, the Bruins will be back at work for the first time since late Thursday morning, when struggling left winger Milan Lucic was demoted to a fifth line during the club’s workout in Wilmington.
Without a point or even a shot during Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres, the hulking power forward could be scratched, perhaps allowing for Swedish prospect Carl Soderberg to make his NHL debut.
Of the postponed game, Neely said it will have to be played, “because of the impact on the standings.’’
Had the Bruins played and won Friday night, they would have moved into the lead in the Northeast Division, and from fourth to second in the Eastern Conference standings. But they remained in fourth, two seeds below Montreal. Had the playoffs begun Friday morning, the Bruins would have been pitted in a best-of-seven first-round series with the Maple Leafs.
But there is still a long way to go, in a very short time.