The Wraparound: Bruins need to solve Blue Jackets’ Bobrovsky in a hurry

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

It must feel like mission impossible right now.

Finding a way past Sergei Bobrovsky in these playoffs has been, in a word, frustrating. Never have we seen a playoff iteration of Bob that’s been so dominant. His normal, leaky self at this time of year has been all patched up. It presented a world of problems for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1 and sealant only hardened as Columbus’ run shifted to Round 2.

The Boston Bruins need to find something in Game 4 against the Blue Jackets on Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Anything.

Bobrovsky has allowed just one goal in the past 1:21:41 of game time, and that goal only passed the goal line by a half an inch. Their previous goal, David Pastrnak‘s lone marker in the series, deflected off his skate. Goals are goals, but Boston’s output has been poor at best and they’ve been relying on the fluke train to hit its stops on time. It hasn’t. The fluke train is often late.

And Bob has been there when the spectacular has been demanded.

2011 – 2018 
• Record: 5-4
• GAA: 3.49
• Sv%: .891
• Games allowing 4+ goals: 10

2019
• Record: 6-1
• GAA: 1.89
• Sv%: .937
• Games allowing 4+ goals: 0

Combine Bob’s play with the Blue Jackets forecheck and you have a combination that’s built to stifle opposing offenses.

“The secondary saves that he’s making are very impressive,” Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said. “But he’s definitely going to crack at some point. I have a lot of faith that we’re going to put pucks past him really soon. We had really good opportunities through all three periods to put pucks behind him and you credit him today. But overall I don’t think it’s going to last.”

If Carlo’s premonition is come to pass, he’s going to need his team’s big three to step up to the plate.

Here are some streaks you don’t want to hear as a Boston fan:

  • Season-long four-game point drought for Brad Marchand
  • Season-long three-game point drought for Patrice Bergeron
  • No goals in eight of the past 10 games for Pastrnak

“Is it sustainable? I don’t know,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I can’t predict the future. I’d like to think they’re going to have to score. Obviously, some of that starts on the power play. We had one that was not very good – the second one, we got taken off it, so that’s not even really a power play. We’re going to have to figure something out as a group.”

Indeed.

Boston is just 1-for-10 on the power play in the series. They were 7-for-16 in Round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and were third in the NHL, clipping along at 25.9 percent during the regular season.

Columbus’ game plan of shutting down the other team’s best is always the plan in theory, but they’ve done a remarkable job of it in these playoffs. Tampa’s top three scorers in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point — all 40-goal scorers — were held to just five points across the first-round sweep. Pastrnak’s goal stands as the only point among himself, Marchand and Bergeron thus far.

Whatever’s in the water in Ohio is working then. The Bruins may want to steal a sip from that tap prior to Game 4. Going down 3-1 in a series is pretty much a death sentence.

 [NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TODAY’S SCHEDULE: 

Game 4: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET, Sharks lead 2-1: As long as Logan Couture stays healthy for the San Jose Sharks, it seems they’ll do just fine. Since 2010, Couture’s 43 playoff goals only trail Alex Ovechkin‘s 50. And while Couture hadn’t scored since his heroics in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights, he made a triumphant entrance into Round 2 with a hat trick that made sure the Avs’ rally from a 2-0 deficit would be all for naught. Colorado had won eight straight at home before Couture and Co. sullied that. The Avs would do well converting some of their power-play opportunities. They were 0-for-4 in Game 3, including misfiring on a late-game attempt as they looked for an equalizer. (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN)

TUESDAY’S SCORES:
Hurricanes 5, Islanders 2
Stars 4, Blues 2

PHT’s Round 2 previews
Round 2 schedule, TV info
Questions for the final eight teams
PHT Roundtable
Blue Jackets vs. Bruins
Hurricanes vs. Islanders
Blues vs. Stars
Avalanche vs. Sharks


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NY governor says pro teams can resume training

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months.

”Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference Sunday.

The New York City area was one of the hardest-hit parts of the U.S. by the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 deaths and new infections in the state have been trending downward.

Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL are discussing the resumption of their seasons with their players’ unions.

”I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena – do it! Do it!” Cuomo said. ”Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”

WCHA’s Alabama-Huntsville cuts hockey program

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Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials said athletes in those sports who want to join another team’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. If they choose to stay, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of their academic careers.

Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.

Men’s hockey had been the lone Division I sport for Alabama-Huntsville. It competes at the Division II level in all other sports.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

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Canada’s NHL teams have offered season-ticket holders rebate or refund options in acknowledgment that no more 2019-20 regular-season games will be played in front of fans in their respective buildings.

In a four-day span May 13-16, all seven teams contacted their season-ticket bases with options and, in some cases, deadlines to make a decision, according to The Canadian Press.

“It has become increasingly apparent, that any possibility will not include any further games being played this season in front of fans at Bell MTS Place,” the Winnipeg Jets said in an email.

That admission may seem anticlimactic given leagues and teams around the world are either playing in empty stadiums, or trying to figure out a way to just resume play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But season-ticket money is a key element of NHL business. Clubs are loathe to part with it.

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money.

Toronto Maple Leafs season-ticket holders had to declare they wanted their money back by Victoria Day or a credit would be applied to their accounts.

Their Montreal Canadiens counterparts had to make a decision by Friday, while the Vancouver Canucks’ deadline is June 3.

NHLPA board approves 24-team, return-to play-format

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We have our first step towards resuming the 2019-20 season with the approval of the return-to-play format by the NHLPA Executive Board.

The 31 NHL team representatives voted and a majority gave the thumbs up to the 24-team, conference-based proposal.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the vote was 29-2 in favor.

Now the plan moves on to the Board of Governors for their approval.

From the NHLPA:

The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.

If the BOG green lights it, the next steps would include figuring out proper safety protocols for all involved and how the hub city plan would work, among numerous other details.

Based on points percentage at the time of the March 12 NHL pause, the top four teams in each conference (Boston, Tampa, Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas, Dallas) will receive a first-round bye. Round 1 will feature eight play-in matchups in a best-of-five series.

As the play-in round takes place, the eight conference leaders could potentially take part in a mini tournament that will determine the seeding for Round 2. Reseeding after the play-in round is another topic likely to be discussed.

Here’s what it might end up looking like:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND 1 BYES
• Bruins
• Lightning
• Capitals
• Flyers

PLAY-IN ROUND
(5) Penguins
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 4 seed
(12) Canadiens

(6) Hurricanes
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 3 seed
(11) Rangers

(7) Islanders
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 2 seed
(10) Panthers

(8) Maple Leafs
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 1 seed
(9) Blue Jackets

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND 1 BYES
• Blues
• Avalanche
• Golden Knights
• Stars

PLAY-IN ROUND
(5) Oilers
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 4 seed
(12) Blackhawks

(6) Predators
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 3 seed
(11) Coyotes

(7) Canucks
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 2 seed
(10) Wild

(8) Flames
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 1 seed
(9) Jets

Games would be played without fans with teams based in hub cities potentially located in both the U.S. and Canada. Columbus, Las Vegas, and Edmonton are a few of the cities that have shown interested in playing host to playoff games.

Since the 24-team format entered the rumor mill, it’s received a mixed reaction from players.

“Twenty-four teams sounds like a lot of teams to me,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson told Mike Tirico on Thursday. “You have to make sure there is some level playing field in terms of intensity…So while 24 teams sounds like a lot, maybe due to logistics, that makes the most sense.”

“I will say that when it comes to the format I think it is almost impossible to make everyone happy … the situation is what it is,” Lars Eller of the Capitals said via the Washington Post. “It is far from perfect. We are going to manage the best we can and I do think we will come together and find a solution regarding that. It is not going to be easy.”

Kris Letang told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that Penguins players voted “yes” on the proposal citing “greater good for everyone.”

“At the end of the day, nobody gets exactly what they want,” Letang said. “But, we all want what is best for hockey and to continue to grow the game.”

MORE:
Predators’ Duchene: ‘You don’t want to have a COVID Cup’
Our Line Starts podcast: Evaluating fairness of 24-team NHL playoff

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.