The top two members of the Boston Bruins patriarchy were sidelined by snow on Saturday, the parent club postponing their home date with the Tampa Bay Lightning (via NHL.com) while Providence pushed off its excursion to Manchester.
For Boston, this will mean conducting its next extramural engagement Sunday night in Buffalo after its second consecutive set of three uninterrupted non-game days. The NHL Bruins’ only activity since last Saturday was a 2-1 road triumph in Montreal on Wednesday.
For Providence, which likewise hopes to resume its game slate on Sunday, a pair of originally slated Friday and Saturday bouts have now been bumped back three days apiece. This will mean hosting the Monarchs on Sunday and the Portland Pirates Monday night before venturing to Manchester this Tuesday.
That will be followed by a mere two off days before another three-in-three next Friday through Sunday, as is customary at their level.
Translation: Providence will snap out of a full week free of game action with a slew of six contests in eight days.
For a team that has won each of its last five ventures, the lengthy layoff could be a momentum killer. In addition, the sudden onset of rigor after an unusually protracted period of relative inactivity could take a physical and mental toll.
The higher-ups from the parent club will want to keep their collective fingers crossed and eyes peeled over that. The Bruins farm system is flexing some of its best shape in recent years and any combination of repeat losses and injuries could muddle the works and drain the supply of reliable reinforcements in case of an emergency at the NHL level.
On the other hand, there are a handful of ailing forwards on the roster of either Bruins team who can benefit from these delays. Per a pair of tweets from Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, the AHL affiliate has had Jared Knight and Jordan Caron both making their way back, with Caron substantially closer to a return.
Any extra body with any extra recovery time ought to give the P-Bruins more flexibility and thus a better opportunity to rotate players in and out of the lineup during the coming week’s demanding sprint.
The Spooner transaction can be taken as a sign that one or more of Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille and/or Shawn Thornton will be ready to dress again next time out. If any of them are in action against the Sabres on Sunday, they will have had an extra 24 hours to heal through the deletion of Saturday’s Lightning game.
Assuming they have enough players in stock to keep everyone relatively fresh, the P-Bruins’ primary concern will be percolating a new wave of momentum to augment their winning streak. Or, if nothing else, to avoid a detrimental slump.
That is less of an issue for Boston, although backup goaltender Anton Khudobin is bound to be getting colder by the day. His only appearance to date this season was last Monday, Jan. 28, in Carolina, the first half of the team’s only pair of back-to-back games to date.
Under originally scheduled circumstances, one can assume Khudobin would have split this weekend’s workload with Tuukka Rask. Instead, odds are that Rask will get the nod for the lone weekend game after a win in Toronto, three days off, a win in Montreal and three more nights off before a rematch with Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
Due to circumstances beyond their control, Khudobin and his relatively recent teammates down in Providence will be inevitably tasked with digging deep for another layer of mental toughness. They need to be sure to stave off psychological frostbite after each taking a week or more off from game action in the middle of a season.