Bruins preparing for 48-game season sprint

Bruins preparing for 48-game season sprint
January 8, 2013, 3:05 pm
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BOSTON -- Bruins President Cam Neely described the 48-game shortened season he played during the 1994-95 NHL regular season as a fast and furious campaign that was one of the most enjoyable of his career. It makes plenty of sense given the import of each game in a truncated schedule, and the elimination of the dog days that can sometimes drag down a run-of-the-mill 82-game regular season.

Now the current edition of the Bruins will get a chance to experience it when they hope to open a 48-game schedule on Jan. 19 after the NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement on a Collective Bargaining Agreement last weekend.

Its going to be interesting. Even when you play an 82-game schedule and you have a bad start it becomes difficult to recover from, said Gregory Campbell. The stakes will be even higher in a shortened season. Every game will be critical.

But the good thing in a 48-game schedule is that there will be no layovers and no rest. It will be one game right after another. If you have a bad game you can jump back into it the next night. It will just be a challenge to stay healthy and stay fresh.

Interestingly enough theres been speculation that NHL teams will be allowed to carry an extra player or two given the war of unavoidable attrition when playing 48 games in four-plus months. That should be the case for the Bruins anyway when they break out of their week-long training camp as both defenseman Adam McQuaid and forward Jordan Caron may not be healthy enough to start the year for Boston.

So the Black and Gold's organizational depth will be tested right out of the gate. But to their credit it will be the same coaching staff, nearly the same exact group of players and the same familiar system that the Bs will be slipping into. 

I know I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and myself and we have a lot to look forward to going into this year, said Milan Lucic.

Every game will be important. The Bruins will have seven games apiece against rival clubs in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Buffalo, and theyll be essentially playing hockey games every other day once the season begins.

The clich is that it turns the NHL regular season into an Olympic sprint rather than a Boston Marathon, but it's 100 percent truth. The Bruins stumbled out to a 3-7 start in their first 10 games last season while battling through the Stanley Cup hangover, and the Black and Gold cant afford that kind of malaise this time around.

Having had 12 Bruins players skating over in Europe -- at one time or another -- should go a long way toward getting the Black and Gold off to a solid beginning this time around.

With less games it becomes a sprint right away, said Lucic. Every game means so much more that we cant afford to have a start like we did last year. We cant be in a position to play catch-up like we did last year, and just maintain our level of play for the entire year.

Lucic did admit that there will be some sloppy hockey in the first few weeks back as two sets of players those that kept active in Europe and those that gathered rust while they sat idle in North America attempt to reach the same level. But a 48-game season followed by a full Stanley Cup playoff should be a rousing, rollicking success, and could actually be a little dangerous.

After all, if it turns out well, hockey lovers everywhere are going to start wondering why the NHL doesnt play a 50-game season every year.