By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It never feels right to accuse pro athletes of half-assing it. But it's different when Brad Marchand basically admits it.
The Bruins went 0-3 in the round robin leading up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Marchand used the word "preseason" to describe the games. So essentially, they punted on the No. 1 seed. Home ice advantage is nonexistent in the NHL bubble in terms of the crowd, so perhaps being the top seed isn't what it could've been in a normal season.
But doesn't seeding matter at least a little bit? The Bruins could be playing the No. 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Instead they get the Carolina Hurricanes, who are improved over last year's team and may have a little red-ass to get their revenge on the B's after last year's sweep. The B's deliberately risked making their road to the Stanley Cup Final harder, and now it is.
So the Bruins better look like a different team on Tuesday in Game 1. Or else Marchand's comment on the round robin would ring hollow.
"It really doesn't mean anything. Those are preseason games. Let's call it what it is," said Marchand, via Joe Haggerty.
OK, so the Bruins weren't quite trying. That means they're going to try, now, right? The top line is going to start scoring?
On the positive side of things, the Bruins did seem to make gradual progress throughout the round-robin - much like you'd expect from a team slowly ramping it up during the preseason. Despite losing to the Capitals 2-1 on Sunday, they controlled the action in the first period and at least appeared to have more structure to their game. But Sports Hub Sidelines co-host Ty Anderson and I agreed that they looked oddly lacking in energy and intensity in all three games, even when they were playing well. The hope is that Marchand's comment turns out to be prescient and we weren't watching the "real" Bruins.
So it's all systems go, now. No more "preseason" excuses. The real playoffs are here, and it's time for Marchand and the Bruins to start playing like the No. 1 seed that they used to be.
Sports Hub Sidelines Podcast
Ty Anderson and I previewed the 'Canes and gave our postgame takes after the Bruins lost to the Capitals as part of a bonus episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines. Have a listen below.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].