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Keep the weekend open.

That is the best advice anybody associated with #TribHKY can provide about when the Penguins-Bruins Eastern Conference final will begin.

There were reporters, very late on Monday, that the series will open Saturday night with a prime-time broadcast on NBC. That may prove true, but as of very late Monday neither the Penguins nor NHL were sure of anything.

In fact, the NHL still is not sure.

There are several factors that are reasons for the long break between Rounds 1 and 2:

  1. The Western Conference semifinals will now not wrap until Wednesday night because Blackhawks-Red Wings are going to a Game 7. Had that series wrapped Monday, Game 1 of Penguins-Bruins was likely to be Friday night.
  2. Arena availability is a problem in most cities because these buildings were booked for June once the NHL lockout stretched into December and threatened to sack the season. Buildings could not risk staying dark, so in places such as Boston and Los Angeles, where the TD Garden and Staples Center respectively are busy places with multiple sporting tenants, there was bound to be difficulty with scheduling if the Bruins and Kings played in June.
  3. TV rules the day, and both NBC and, in Canada, the CBC/TSN, prefers prime-time starts to the series – preferably on a weekend. Remember the 2009 Cup Final, which featured Games 1 and 2 on back-to-back nights over Memorial Day weekend. TV doesn’t care about competitive balance, only potential ratings.
  4. Finally, the NHL wants flow to these series. The ideal is not two-day breaks multiple times in a series, as was the case for Round 2 of Penguins-Senators. So, there is a push to start the series only when the series can keep rolling on something close to an every-other-day schedule.

A longer break should not favor either the Penguins or Bruins, because those clubs wrapped their Round 2 series within about a half-day of one another. All this rest could allow Boston’s banged up defense to heal, but that might benefit the Penguins, actually.

The Bruins’ regular backend components are less ideally matched against Penguins forwards than the substitutes Boston played against the New York Rangers. Those substitutes could, well, keep up. The regulars will struggle.

Some factoids to make sense of on this Tuesday:

Kris Letang has scored 34.1 percent of his playoff points, 16 of 47, this postseason.

=  In May 2006, Ray Shero broke off talks with the Bruins before accepting the general manager position with the Penguins. The Bruins hired current GM Peter Chiarelli a day after Shero joined the Penguins.

And now for the Tuesday coverage:


The club is off today, and so am I. Enjoy the rain, everybody.








Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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