BostonBruins.com - The one constant question Bruins players have faced since the announcement that the NHL and NHLPA had agreed to the framework of a new CBA, is whether or not they will be ready to go when a shortened 2012-13 season gets underway.
That has not occurred since the 1994-95 campaign with a trimmed 48-game schedule - the same amount that are expected to be played this season, though the regular-season schedule has yet to be released - so players don’t have much to go off of, in terms of what to expect.
But the B’s do know one thing: they have to get off to hot start.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said forward Milan Lucic, earlier this week following an informal practice at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. “With less games it becomes a sprint right away and every game means so much more.
“You can’t afford to have a start like we had last year. Hopefully, we find a way to maintain [that] throughout the whole year. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
The Bruins rebounded nicely from a 3-7 start last season but that was during a normal 82-game schedule. But have acknowledged that a start like that this year might put them well behind the eight ball.
“It’s going to mean so much more now that it’s such a short schedule,” said forward Brad Marchand of getting off to a good start. “If you go on a bad run to start the year, you can easily push yourself out of playoff position, so everyone really has to bear down, and make sure every game counts.”
While some Bruins, like Lucic and Marchand, stayed at home during the lockout, most of the team made the trek across the Atlantic, to Europe, and have been playing for the last few months, something the B’s believe will help them when the NHL reconvenes.
“You’ve had a lot of guys playing the last four months,” said forward Gregory Campbell, “at pretty competitive levels, so I’m sure those guys will be feeling pretty good.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference, who played for Ceske Budejovice, where he 2-5=7 totals in 24 games, agreed that the experience of playing in Europe will ease the transition back to the NHL.
“You had to go over there, you had to play, you had to stay sharp, you had to be ready for this for coming back, and make the most of it and just enjoy it as much as you can,” he said. “The guys with the right perspective had a very productive year hockey-wise, and just changing their outlook on the game. It’s going to benefit a lot of guys.”
Another factor that the Bruins believe will help them hit the ground - or ice - running is the amount of games that will be played within the division.
“It will be interesting, especially [with] a lot of divisional games,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who played in his native Germany over the past few months with Mannheim, recording 2-18=20 totals and a plus-15 rating.
“I heard, I guess, seven games against each rival, so there’s going to be a lot of tight, hard battle games...48 games you can’t really afford to have a stretch of six or seven that you slack. So, it’s important for us to get going strong and hard.”