The Bruins took a second straight day off today after flying back home from Prague overnight Sunday into Monday morning. They’re scheduled to start practicing again Wednesday.
They don’t play another game until Saturday at New Jersey — the typical approach teams competing in NHL Premier games overseas have taken in recent years.
The best news for Bruins fans is that playing in Europe hasn’t hindered teams’ drives for a championship. The ’09 Pittsburgh Penguins and ’10 Chicago Blackhawks both went on to raise the Stanley Cup. And they both took a little post-trip time off
Although I obviously don’t know each team’s practice schedule from the last four seasons, here’s a capsule look at how Premier competitors fared in game action upon their return since ’07:
2007 Ducks & Kings
The defending-champion Ducks and Kings split a pair of games in London. Anaheim set a precedent for what not to do upon returning, as the Ducks took just two days off before playing three games (0-2-1) on the road. They finished the month of October at 3-6-2 and finished up in the spring with a first-round loss. Los Angeles took a week off, but that didn’t help a weak Kings club, which finished fifth in the Pacific Division and out of the playoffs. The Kings lost that first game back, took three more days off and then lost three more before showing signs of life with five wins in six games.
2008 Rangers & Lightning
Nothing was going to salvage the Lightning’s Barry Melrose-led start to the ’08-09 season. Tampa Bay took a week off, went 0-0-3 upon returning from Prague and finished at 24-40-18. The Rangers, who swept the two games in the Czech Republic, won three in a row after four days off after their trip. They went 10-2-1 in October and finished the season 43-30-9.
2008 Penguins & Senators
The eventual Cup-champion Penguins won both games with Ottawa in Stockholm (one in overtime) and lost an overtime game at home to start the North American portion of their schedule. Pittsburgh finished the month 5-4-2 and the regular season 45-28-9 (second in the Atlantic Division) before its Cup run. The Sens, who finished fourth in the division and out of the playoffs, lost their first game back after a week off and then took another week off. The Sens won their second North American game but obviously struggled the rest of the season.
2009 Blackhawks & Panthers
Chicago’s Cup run started with a win and shootout loss against Florida in Helsinki. The ‘Hawks lost their first game back after four days off, but then won four in a row on their way to the Central Division title. The Panthers probably weren’t going to be very good regardless of where they started the season. They took a week off and then dropped seven of their first eight games on North America soil en route to a berth in the lottery.
2009 Red Wings & Blues
The Blues actually swept their division rivals over in Stockholm, but then failed to keep that success going. The Blues lost three in a row after four days off upon returning and never recovered en route to a playoff-less season. The Red Wings, Cup winners two years prior and Cup finalists the year before, ran out of gas by the spring. But after coming back from Sweden they won a game after three days off and then finished up 5-4-3 in October.
So basically, the Bruins’ schedule should work in their favor — even if they just play .500 hockey for the rest of this month. And if they have the talent to go all the way come the postseason, the odd early-season travel schedule shouldn’t have made a difference.