BOSTON — The first weekend in August is normally the middle of the off-season for National Hockey Leauge (NHL) players. But this year, it's the start of the postseason.
The NHL restart began on Saturday and the Boston Bruins play in their first round-robin matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday afternoon.
With no fans, or home-ice advantage, the game will look different for the players, and it will also look different for the voices of the Boston Bruins.
For more than a decade, Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley have called Boston Bruins Hockey on NESN. But no season, or postseason, will look like this one.
The biggest reason why all the games are being played in Toronto while the duo will be broadcasted from Watertown Massachusetts, more than 500 miles away.
“You lose the feel for the game when you’re not in the arena when you can’t have that literal human contact even though its 200 or more feet away in our announce position," Edwards said.
With no games played since March 10, players and broadcasters needed to shake the rust off.
Each NHL team played in an exhibition game before the new-look postseason began Saturday.
The B's dropped their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1, but it gave the team to battle against an opponent and gave Edwards and Brickley some live hockey to commentate.
It was awesome," Brickley said during NESN media availability after the game. “It was necessary for us too, we need a little training camp ourselves.”
The two will broadcast games in the studio, looking at a monitor. Something they haven't done in 10 years.
Although the picture quality is high-definition and the two will be able to listen to the natural sounds of the game, there will be challenges.
For one, due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, all games will be filmed by NBC and fed for regional broadcasts. NESN will still use its own graphics, but won't have all the control on camera angles, and replays.
“The director chose a shot of the attacking team’s forwards and four penalty killers, and I had no idea who was at the point for Columbus," Edwards said.
Edwards added the way NESN normally shows replays is different than NBC.
"Our replays often start in the defensive zone and it’s what leads to the opportunity to score the goal where you really learn how the game is played," Edwards said.
NESN will have the opportunity to work with NBC to alter some replay angles or anything else over the course of the postseason.
Replay shots of goals, big hits, and penalties are Brickley's bread and butter. The former Bruin and Maine Marinier breaks down the game as an analyst and is normally able to communicate with NESN's control truck to bring up what he wants for replays.
NESN will have one of its own cameras rinksides which will allow the broadcast team to use NBC's replays or their own.
“Do we call an audible and use the one camera that we have control of in Toronto and do our own replay?" Brickey said.
Because all games will have no fans, whatever players say on the ice will be picked up by the dozens of microphones around the arena. The NHL is delaying each broadcast by six seconds to catch anything said that isn't appropriate.
Edwards said that delay will force him to look six seconds into the future to try to predict what will happen on the ice.
Regardless of what the games will look like, its still playoff hockey and the Boston Bruins have the best record in the NHL.
Forward David Pastrnak ended the regular season tied with the most goals in the league.
Goalie Tuukka Rask is a Vezina Trophy finalist, the award for the best goalie in the NHL.
With plenty of veteran leadership surrounding these two elite players, Edwards thinks the Black and Gold have a pretty good shot of avenging last year's Stanley Cup loss.
"I’ll take my chances with the Bruins. They’ve shown they can win games in many, many different ways.”
The Bruins will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, Aug, 5, for game two of the round-robin format. It will be the first game on NESN.