NHL announces start time for opponent-deciding Bruins-Capitals game

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

Scrap any Sunday afternoon plans, 'cause the NHL has set a 12 p.m. start for a playoff opponent-deciding round-robin contest between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

And for both teams, the breakdown is a simple one: Win and you're the No. 3 seed and play the New York Islanders in round one. Lose and you're the No. 4 seed and play the Carolina Hurricanes. Regulation, overtime, shootout. It doesn't matter. (If there's ever a time for that famous Al Davis line, it's at 12 p.m. this Sunday.)

For Boston, a regulation win would give Bruce Cassidy's two points in the round-robin tourney (1-2-0) compared to one for the Capitals (0-2-1), while a win of any sort would give the Capitals an umatchable three points compared to Boston's one or zero.

Should the Bruins pull off an overtime/shootout win against the Capitals, however, each team would finish the round-robin tourney with two points (1-2-0 for Boston, 0-0-2 for Washington), and the tiebreaker (regular-season point percentage) would go to the Bruins.

The Bruins, for what it's worth, haven't made a big deal out of losing the No. 1 seed they, under normal circumstances, would have earned as the league's Presidents' Trophy winners.

But Cassidy didn't deny the importance of this game for the Black and Gold's pre-playoff preparation.

"There is something at stake," Cassidy acknowledged. "I think that will make our players a little more focused. As I’ve said all along, I think the major part of their focus is on game one of our first postseason game. I’d like them to be able to park that and focus on the opponent we’re playing 100 percent.

"At the end of the day, let’s play better than we did against Tampa and hope to be injury free. Sometimes that’s out of your control. And keep building in a positive way towards game one. So, that hasn’t changed with all our games. It won’t. The last part of that, it would be nice to win a hockey game. We haven’t since March 10th or whatever it was, so that’s the other part of it. You don’t want that lingering in the back of your mind. That to me is important as well in this particular Sunday game."

The Bruins and Capitals last played one another on Dec. 23, with the Bruins capturing a 7-3 victory. But it's far from an ideal matchup for the Bruins, of course, with the Caps winning 16 of their last 18 head-to-heads with the B's.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.