The Boston Bruins lost their series to the Tampa Bay Lightning after a 3-2 defeat in double overtime on Monday, and forward David Krejci took the loss to heart, knowing the end of an era could be near.
"It just hit me after the game," an emotional Krejci said with his head bowed down, according to the Boston Globe's Matt Porter. "... The core group, we have one or two or three years left."
"It's just kind of a little sad (right) now," he added.
Krejci is 34 years old and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next season. Fellow forwards Patrice Bergeron (35) and Brad Marchand (32) are also aging.
"You never know how many opportunities you'll have to win a Cup," Marchand said.
Boston's blue line might look much different as early as next season. Torey Krug is a pending unrestricted free agent. As is Zdeno Chara, who could retire at 43 years old.
"I haven't made that decision," Chara said. "I just finished the game. I'm going to be open-minded."
Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, and Chara were all members of the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team, and the 2013 and 2019 squads that lost in the finals.
Michael Hutchinson will start for the Avs with their season on the line, while Ben Bishop will return to the crease for the first time since Game 2 of Dallas' first-round series versus the Calgary Flames.
Hutchinson relieved Pavel Francouz - who was deemed unfit to play Monday - in Game 4 but hasn't started a game since March 2. Hunter Miska will serve as the backup.
Colorado's usual starter, Philipp Grubauer, was injured in Game 1 versus the Stars and has no timeline on a potential return.
Hutchinson began his 2019-20 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, posting an .888 save percentage in 16 appearances. He got a win in his only start after joining the Avalanche at the trade deadline, and Game 5 will be his first-ever playoff start.
Dallas holds a 3-1 series lead and can advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2007-08 with a victory.
Rutherford notes Florida has considered numerous candidates for the position, including Scott Mellanby, Chris MacFarland, Mike Futa, Laurence Gilman, Bill Zito, Ron Hextall, Eddie Olczyk, Kevin Weekes, and Sean Burke.
The Panthers fired Dale Tallon as their GM on Aug. 10 after the club's qualifying-round loss to the New York Islanders. Tallon is under investigation for potentially using a racial slur while with the team in the Toronto bubble.
Florida has made the playoffs just twice in the last 19 seasons.
The Lightning opted to go with seven defensemen in the contest.
McDonagh recorded 12 regular-season points in 50 games, and he's added three assists in nine playoff matchups. He leads all Lightning players in average postseason time on ice, and only Victor Hedman averaged more regular-season minutes.
He added: "It does affect you mentally and it affects how you sort of construct your lineup when you had those back-to-backs."
Rask played in the round robin and two games during Boston's first-round series versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Halak has posted a 4-3 record with a .906 save percentage in the seven games since, and the Bruins face a 3-1 series deficit against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Game 5 scheduled for Monday night.
Dan Vladar made his NHL debut in relief of Halak during a blowout loss in Game 4. Cassidy said the Bruins didn't expect to be dealing with such uncertainty between the pipes when they entered the postseason.
"It's a tough spot for him to go in," Cassidy said. "We saw that when he had to go in in the middle of a game. Then the mental part of it as a group, yeah, you get down. Do you believe you have all the pieces to win? You'd have to ask the players that. I always do."
The Bruins were the NHL's No. 1 team in the regular season with Rask and Halak splitting starting duties.
Rask has made 93 career postseason starts, owning a 51-42 record and a dominant .926 save percentage.
The NHL has maintained a clean slate in each bubble for the sixth consecutive week.
The league recorded zero positive COVID-19 tests among the 2,814 administered from Aug. 23 to 29.
As per NHL protocol, the league completed daily testing for players and every other member of the teams' 52-person traveling groups.
The second round of the postseason could conclude as early as Tuesday, at which point the two remaining Eastern Conference clubs will join the two surviving teams out west in the Edmonton bubble for the remainder of the playoffs.
The NHL's streak of zero positive tests includes the week leading up to the restart when teams arrived at their respective hub cities.