With snow starting to come down heavily outside TD Garden on Friday afternoon, the Bruins and the NHL announced that the start time for Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning had been pushed from 1 to 7 p.m.
Speculation had been rampant in the Bruins’ locker room that there might be a time change, but none of the players seemed overly concerned. Many of them, after all, are from Canada. Or Finland.
“In Finland, it’s every day in the winter,” Tuukka Rask said. “That’s what’s kind of funny for me. Because it’s a state of emergency, schools shut down [in Massachusetts]. For us, it’s just every day.”
For coach Claude Julien, it wasn’t even close to the worst storm he’d experienced. That happened during the 1991-92 season, when Julien was playing for the Moncton Hawks of the American Hockey League.
“They broke the record,” Julien said. “They had, I think, 5 feet 6 inches of snow come down, and the whole town was closed. Our trainers and some of the people were stuck in the rink for a couple of days, eating out of the concession stands.
“Nothing like a good hot dog, right?”
Julien, however, made it home after the morning skate. He didn’t get stuck.
This storm wasn’t likely to get that bad, but the decision was still made to push back the game time. The MBTA had already been shut down and Governor Deval Patrick had instituted a travel ban that might have made it difficult for fans to get to the Garden by 1 p.m.
The Lightning already had arrived in town after their game on Thursday night against the Devils in New Jersey. But the change in schedule was made more difficult by the fact that both teams play on Sunday. The Bruins head to Buffalo, while the Lightning travel to New York to play the Rangers.
The Bruins practiced on Friday morning at 10:30 at the Garden. They will not have a morning skate on Saturday.
Fortunately for the Bruins, most of the players live in the city, making commuting a non-issue. Milan Lucic estimated it takes him about 30 seconds to get to the Garden. He wasn’t worried about making it there, no matter when the game was scheduled to be played.
“Even if I need to just throw the snowshoes on and get to the rink,” Lucic said.
Asked about his commute, Shawn Thornton joked, “Should be a tough one, from Charlestown.
“We’ll see how it is. I don’t think we needed to sell out the grocery stores for water and milk for a two-day storm. That’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m from Canada.”
Line ’em up
The line combinations at practice indicated that Julien was leaning toward sticking with the change he made on Wednesday against Montreal, when he moved Tyler Seguin to the top line after the second period. Julien said he had not made a decision.
Seguin skated with Lucic and David Krejci, and occasionally Brad Marchand, on the first line, though Marchand’s status for Saturday’s game is in doubt. Nathan Horton, who was replaced on the first line by Seguin against the Canadiens, skated with Rich Peverley and Patrice Bergeron.
“If that’s what it takes to maybe spark a guy, maybe a change sometimes needs to be made,” Lucic said.
Seguin scored 14 seconds into the third period Wednesday night, and the newly formed line also got the winning goal, by Krejci.
“It obviously worked out really good in Montreal,” Marchand said. “There was obviously some chemistry there.”
Daniel Paille and Thornton are possibilities for Saturday’s game. Marchand said he hasn’t been cleared to play.
“I felt all right, each day it’s getting a little bit better,” Marchand said, declining to be specific about the injury. “That’s a good sign. It’s just something that’s aggravating me a bit, and I just want to make sure it’s not going to affect my safety out there.
“Nobody wants to sit out. You hate missing games. You hate not playing. That’s just how it is.”
But, he said, “I’m not going to put myself in a vulnerable position.”
As for Paille and Thornton, Julien said he was just waiting for them to be cleared medically for game action.
Paille said he “feels really good,” and had no problems with his vision after being high-sticked Jan. 31 in a game against the Sabres.
Thornton, who has been skating all week, got a chance to take the ice with teammates for the first time since suffering a concussion in the Buffalo game. “It was a long week skating by myself and no goalie,” he said.