(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)
With the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 regular season schedule recently released by the league and team, it’s that time of the off-season again to mark your B’s calendar! In this six-part series, I’ll be taking a look at what I think are the key scheduling stretches for the Black N’Gold this upcoming year. Some will be home stands, others long road trips; we’ll preview some back-to-backs and some historic (and heated) rivalries; and of course we’ll look at the big divisional match-ups and Stanley Cup rematches that all of the hockey world will be eager to see. So, without further ado, let’s start with the B’s grueling Fall schedule — a tough test for any team, let alone one that played until June and will have a limited Summer.
OCTOBER 3rd – 10th: “Road Warriors”
The Bruins open next season on the road and stay on the road for another three games in what could be called a mini Western Conference kick (as opposed to the annual “West Coast Kick” in California later next Spring). The team first plays the always formidable and fight-filled Dallas Stars on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd before taking on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche over the next seven nights, respectively. This will be a pretty solid litmus test for the almost Stanley Cup Champs (who also pride themselves in being “Road Warriors”) as three of their four competitors also had solid playoff runs and will be wanting to make a statement against the Eastern Conference Champs on home ice. I expect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to split these four games, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rode the early hot (glove) hand on the road if either could get on a streak right out of the gates.
If the B’s can secure at least five-out-of-eight points during this opening stretch of hockey, that would be ideal — especially when you consider the team will be without stalwart defensemen Kevan Miller & John Moore to start the year and will most likely be featuring a new top-six set-up with Butch Cassidy juggling “the Sundance kids” to see who exactly is the best fit alongside Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (line one) and David Krejci & Jake DeBrusk (line two). All in all, there’s a lot to pay attention to and take note of as the B’s travel West for a week to start the ’19 season.
OCTOBER 17th – 29th: “Test Your Might!”
I’m likening this next portion of the Bruins’ schedule to the opening part in the original Mortal Kombat theme song: Test Your Might. And coming off what will hopefully be a successful TD Garden Home Opener on October 12th against New Jersey (that’ll be a good one now that P.K. Subban brings his devilish “D” to the Devils) followed by a visit from the once mighty Ducks of Anaheim two days later, the B’s will need every bit of focus, fortitude & follow-through to contend with what could be the most challenging two weeks of hockey all year (and for any NHL team).
To wit: Boston welcomes the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners from Tampa to town on the 17th and ends the month with the near-Cup-contending Sharks swimming by on the 29th. Sandwiched in between what will undoubtedly be two great games of exciting hockey to bookend this stretch, you see a home-and-home versus a revenge-motivated Toronto team, followed by a Game 7 rematch versus St. Louis’ surly squad that gave everyone in Boston “the Blues.” Then, it’s off to New York to battle the rebuilding Rangers on the road. These six consecutive games will show beyond a shadow of a doubt if the B’s are still Cup-trending or are in need of a boost/spark before Thanksgiving. To paraphrase a different Mortal Kombat line from the still-catchy tune of yesteryear, the B’s will need stand-out performances from, indeed, their mightiest of stars who will be put the test early and often:
Big Z (Liu Kang)
Tuukka Rask (Johnny Cage)
Sub Jaro (Sub Zero)
Coming up in Part II of my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series, I’ll preview what’s on the November docket and how the B’s can take advantage of some important divisional match-ups to make the most of their early season schedule. In the meantime, stay tuned in and tuned up with all things Black N’ Gold by checking out our podcast below: