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Bruins vs. Columbus 7/30/20 Exhibition Game PREVIEW: Back to work

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H....H...H-Hockey? Like....For real-reals? For true?

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Just the Facts:

The Time: 7pm EST

The Place: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Place to Watch: NESN, NHLN, TVAS

Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub

The Stakes: Absolutely none whatsoever. (well...there is the chance, however small, of ‘Rona.)

Opposing SBNation Blog: The Cannon

Know Your Enemy:

  • The Blue Jackets leading scorer by the end of the season was Oliver Bjorkstrand, with 21 goals in 49 games, and their leading point-getter was Pierre-Luc Dubois, who had 49 points in 70 games.
  • Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins are the goalies, per their return roster. As for who ends up starter, it’s hard to say; Korpisalo started fine and finished with a .911 SV%, got hurt, and then Merzlikins came from out of nowhere to be a good goalie, ending his season with a .923 SV%. Even after the first practice back, Torts admitted he didn’t have a clue who would start, and that hasn’t changed much since, with the expectation that they'll switch between the two halfway through the game.
  • Ryan Murray’s healthy for the first time in forever. That’s nice for him.
  • Liam Foudy is the ‘Lumbus black ace to keep an eye on: Foudy has been a young gun who’s been tearing up the OHL as an overager, and now gets a more consistent shot at making his mark for the Jackets, and was given a lot of praise by Torts over the return to play practices.
  • The Jackets power play was capital-T Trash this year. Only the league’s bottom-feeders beat them in trash power play systems. Boston should capitalize on this.

Preview:

Oh my god, this is...a preview! For hockey! And it’s about a normal regular no stakes game that’ll probably not hold a whole lot of people will remember or care about once the playoffs start! It’s like previewing a game in early October! Or the middle of december! Or late March! Normalcy is returning! Thank god at last Normalcy is returning! The yoke of malaise is being taken off!

Anyway, months after the Coronavirus pandemic has swept the world and appears to have settled and laid eggs in the US, Boston and Columbus have the good fortune to play a tune up game against each other to get the ball rolling over the border in Toronto. Last time these two teams met, it ended in a 3-0 shutout loss for the Bruins, which was...during a pretty ugly part of the regular season where seemingly nobody could buy a goal, and it’s most enduring moment was Tuukka Rask getting punched in the head, leaving the game from a concussion, and nobody receiving punishment for it; officially or unofficially. Fans were not pleased.

So yeah, if we’re expecting something loose and fun due to the circumstances, it might get a little more chippy than you might think; Torts made it a point to get everyone back to “mid-season form”, and in spite of his own eccentricities (or maybe even because of them), he has created a team whose sometimes deeply underrated skill talent can surprise you if you’re not careful, even if the team overall by the numbers is...generally less than okay. Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins themselves would probably more than likely love to test their lineup as hard as possible (especially since a couple of key pieces only recently got to Toronto, and some have apparently disappeared) and get a win right after a months long break against a team that made their lives difficult over 10,000 years ago, during pre-’Rona times.

It’s up to the B’s to get the ball rolling fast before their games matter for seeding. Will they hit the ground running? Tune in and find out!