There are a few things we know that would stand in the way:
1. The season ends on April 7.
Including today, that gives them 85 days in which a game might occur.
2. They can’t move an already-scheduled game, or interfere with the bye weeks or the All-Star Game.
Including today, there are 23 days that don’t have a game already scheduled, or aren’t part of the ASG, or on a bye week.
3. There is a rule that states that teams can’t play more often than twice in 3 days.
Including today, there are just 3 days where the Bruins and Panthers have an opening that fits all of the above rules. Here they are:
The Bruins and Panthers are both off on 1/21 and 1/22, but the Panthers play on 1/19 and 1/20, so 1/21 is out. The opening is 1/22. The Panthers play in Nashville on 1/20 and in Dallas on 1/23, but they could theoretically pop back to Boston for a night. The Bruins are in Montreal on 1/20 and host New Jersey on 1/23. They’d be fine with it.
Superbowl Sunday. The Celtics play at TD Garden, but at noon. Could the Bruins play a night game at, say, 8pm on mediocre ice when the Superbowl is on? Yes. Would anyone want to? No. Especially since the Patriots are once again a very good team this year.
There are a few problems with this one, but it’s a possibility. For one, Disney on Ice starts the next day, and there may be stage setup time that needs doing. If so, this is out. For another, the Panthers play in Vancouver the night before. Then they play in LA two days later. The Panthers probably don’t want to hop coast to coast that much. As for the Bruins, they play at home a few days before and in Vancouver 2 days later. The smart thing, as has been floated by other internet folks, is to play in Vancouver. We all know Jeremy Jacobs would hate that, so that’s probably out too.
So there we have it. My best guess is that we see the cats back in Boston on 1/22.