As a former player for the Bruins and resident of Boston, Capitals coach Adam Oates is very sensitive to the challenges facing the team and the city as they try to recover from a harrowing week that ended with the capture of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Oates is also aware of the difficult decisions the NHL was forced to make as it tried to shoehorn the Bruins’ remaining six games into the final nine days of the regular season.
Because of postponed games against the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins the Bruins entered this weekend facing a nine-day stretch against the Penguins, Panthers, Flyers, Lightning, Capitals and Senators while trying to catch Montreal for the Northeast Division lead.
“I think they’ve handled it fantastic, but it also put them in a tough situation,” Oates said Saturday. “They have to play a lot of hockey in a short span of time. Good for them that they put themselves in a good position [in the standings].”
Capitals defenseman John Erskine said the events that transpired over the past several days in Boston, which included the entire city on lockdown on Friday, must have taken an emotional toll on the team and its fans.
“That whole city has gone through a lot,” Erskine said. “A lot of emotions are going on with that team and to throw an extra two games in there and cram it into a season like this has to be tough.”
Last week’s game between the Bruins and Senators has been rescheduled for Sunday night in Boston, one day after the NHL regular season was scheduled to end. There has been talk that the NHL may cancel that Sunday game if the result of that game would not impact the Eastern Conference standings and playoff matchups.
But with the sixth, seventh and eighths seeds changing daily, Oates said he thinks that Sunday game will be necessary in determining who plays who in the first round of the playoffs.
“I want them to play that game,” he said, “because it might affect us.”
Meanwhile, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has pledged to donate $100,000 to the recently established The One Fund Boston, whose purpose is to raise money to help the families most affected by the events at the Boston Marathon.
TD Garden, the NHL and the NHLPA will also be making $50,000 donations, bringing the combined total to $250,000.
For more on the Bruins and their emotional weekend, check out Joe Haggerty’s coverage at www.csnne.com.