The door was left open – and the Bruins skated right in.

No Lightning. No Capitals. No Penguins. The road got easier – and the B’s took advantage.

Now, they wait.

And wait.

And wait.

With the Western Conference final now going at least six games, the Bruins won’t open the Stanley Cup finals until May 27 – 11 nights after Eastern Conference-clinching win in Raleigh.

That’s a long layoff. But as Bruce Cassidy has proven throughout this dream run, these guys will be ready.

Does the layoff cool off Tuukka Rask? Heck, the Bruins were so completely dominant in the elimination game against the ‘Canes that they didn’t even NEED a goalie in that game. OK, that’s exaggeration. But this was a team shutout, as the B’s finished off a sweep having allowed just five goals in the four games.

That’s the same amount of goals the team formerly known as the Whalers allowed against the Islanders in the previous round.

It’s hard to imagine the Bruins losing to either of the Western Conference finalists, and the St. Louis Blues, like the Hurricanes, were a losing team in early January. In fact, they were the NHL’s worst team and on the verge of trading away pieces at the deadline.

Zdeno Chara should be fine for the finals. But GM Don Sweeney said Saturday Kevan Miller has had a setback and likely won’t be back – and Chris Wagner is out.

Column pal Matt Kalman, who is all over the hockey scene in Boston, had the following tweet Saturday:

“Seeing @AmalieBenjamin tweet about #NHLBruins season starting in China & now going to SCF reminded me of this exchange I had with Bruce Cassidy in late September:

“Me: Now that the China trip is behind you, are you able to look at it and say,’ Gee, that would be a special story’ if the rest of the season goes the way you want it to go?

“Bruce: Well, if it’s a repeat of ’11, yes, I know where you’re going, Matt. I’d love that to happen, trust me. It’d be good.”

And trust ME, we have time to examine the final series. Plenty of time and we will do just that.

Sharing the blame

There was no shortage of guys willing to take the hit for Friday night’s Red Sox loss to the Astros in the first of six important games between the teams over two weekends.

Alex Cora blamed himself for letting Rick Porcello start the eighth. Porcello blamed himself for not making the right pitches. Ryan Brasier took some blame for allowing the third run.

Funny, sitting there as the official scorer for this game, I had no thought whatsoever of Porcello, cruising along and at 91 pitches, coming out after seven. But that was me allowing to think old-time baseball. Today’s game means you’re done in that spot, especially with George Springer 9-for-18 lifetime against Porcello.

“That was a bad decision,” Cora said. “That was a bad one from the get-go. That’s the best lineup in baseball. He goes seven; every pitch is high-leverage. He did his job. ... That’s on me; that’s not on Rick.”

Personally, I think the skipper was being WAY too hard on himself, and was more likely just trying to take the heat off his pitcher.

One thing we CAN knock Cora for was starting J.D. Martinez in right field, sitting the ever-slumping Jackie Bradley Jr. in favor of DH Eduardo Nunez in the ninth spot. It’s not like Nunez is killing the ball and the Astros wouldn’t have even tried to score that third run on Mookie Betts‘ arm in right field.

A look around }

Now we take our Sunday waltz around the sports world:

Danny Ainge makes it clear he wants Kyrie Irving to stay right where he is – and says trading for Anthony Davis could make it happen. Along those lines, Terry Rozier told ESPN’s First Take, “I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know I’m not trying to step into that again.” …

Rob Gronkowski, who turned 30 this week, is still retired. But former Pat Shane Vereen says things will be OK in Foxborough without the big fella. “This offense is an offense that morphs to the talents of its players,” Vereen said on the NFL Network. “It’s not an offense where you get guys and fit them into the offense. The offense fits around the talent of the players, which is why every week it looks different, which is why different guys are featured, which is why defenses are scratching their heads trying to figure out who to stop. It’s a very fluid offense, which makes it complicated, but once you get it, anybody has a chance to be successful.” …

Brandon Workman and Brazier, who combined to torch Chris Sale‘s 17-K game Tuesday night, weren’t around to talk to the media after the game – and Cora said he won’t stand for that. Said Cora: “We always say that players have to be responsible, transparent and accountable. I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.” …

David Krejci on what it would mean for the Bruins to get extended rest before the finals by making short work of the Hurricanes, which is what they did: “It would be nice. But at the same time, that means more practices. I don’t like practices, I’d rather play games.” …

Edwin Jackson started for Toronto at San Francisco Thursday, breaking his tie with Octavio Dotel by appearing for a record 14th team. Oddly enough, the pair was in the same trade in 2011. Jackson, 104-123 lifetime, was also with Toronto then but never appeared in a game and he and Dotel were both dealt to St. Louis. …

There is no one better than Mike Breen on basketball play by play. …

From column pal Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball.com), who came up with an interesting stat comparison the other day. Looking at the last 162 games (a full season) for four big hitters, he had the following:

Betts — .327, 34 homers, 90 RBIs; Mike Trout — .309, 42 homers, 92 RBIs; Cody Bellinger — .298, 34 homers, 98 RBIs; Alex Bregman — .288, 42 homers, 121 RBIs; And ... Christian Yelich — .334, 51 homers, 139 RBIs. …

Heading into Thursday night’s game, Rask had a career road playoffs goals against average of 2.02 in 37 games – the third-lowest ever among goaltenders with at least 25 playoff road games. The only two better were old-timers George Hainsworth (1.86) and Turk Broda (1.87). Then, he pitched a shutout and is 8-0 while allowing seven goals in his last two Eastern finals. …

Tommy La Stella came into this season with 10 homers in 828 career at-bats. Through Friday, La Stella, now with the Angels, had 11 home runs in 117 at-bats this season. …

Idiot Sox fan yelling Friday night: “Bregman, you got no rings. No rings.” Umm, yes he does. …

It really is a shame what happened to the Manchester Monarchs’ franchise. The AHL’s move west spelled trouble for some Eastern teams and now the Monarchs are no more. Sad. …

Through Thursday, Bryce Harper was hitting .197 against fastballs. He was also leading the National League in both walks and strikeouts. …

WBZ’s Jonny Miller likes to joke that the Red Sox catchers’ combined batting average won’t come close to Ted Williams‘ .406. Well, after his three hits (and robbed of a fourth) Friday night, Christian Vazquez was batting .311. Sandy Leon was at .200. That’s a combined .511. …

Charlie Coyle on Wagner surrendering his body to block a shot near the end of Game 3 in Raleigh, apparently breaking his arm: “That’s a testament to him and what he’s willing to give for this team. … We’re definitely playing for him and the other guys who are injured and can’t be out there with us. But that’s how Wags is in a nutshell. He does whatever for the team.” …

Kendrys Morales, who hit a hefty homer in his second game as a Yankee, is the third player to wear No. 36 for the Pinstripes this season. Earlier, it was household names Mike Ford and Jake Barrett. …

Foot surgery for Pau Gasol kept the NBA from having two Gasols in one conference final and two Currys in the other.…

Great to see this post from Jerry Remy the other day: “Great day yesterday. Good clean scan and another good day of treatment. Looking forward to the 3 man booth the rest of the week with Dave and Eck.” …

The NHL has to take a hard look at what is and is not reviewable after four officials failed to see a hand pass that led to San Jose’s OT goal Wednesday night. It was the second major break for the Sharks in these playoffs – they were given a five-minute power play against Vegas and scored four goals to win Game 7. …

Big rivalry? The Rays’ game at Miami Wednesday night drew a “crowd” of 5,947. …

Think about this as you watch your favorite pitcher leave after six innings: Walter Johnson pitched 110 SHUTOUTS in his career. …

Sweeney joined Carolina’s Don Waddell and Doug Armstrong of the Blues as the finalists for the NHL General Manager of the Year honor. …

The Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1935. The Lions won that season’s NFL title. The Red Wings then won the 1935-36 Stanley Cup. Boston is on the verge of the first three-title thing since – as the Bruins give Boston its 18th championship series since 2000. Incredible! …

Along those lines, the Red Sox arrived in their clubhouse Friday to find Bruins caps on their chairs. …

The Mets are reuniting Jerry Seinfield and Keith Hernandez on July 5’s Seinfeld Night at Citi Field – on the 30th anniversary of the show’s debut. …

Patrice Bergeron on Rask: “Tuukka’s one of those guys that’s always calm and collected. He’s always even keel and right now, he’s in the zone. He’s been amazing.” …

Speaking of the Sharks, it took 176 games, but old pal Joe Thornton finally recorded his first multi-goal playoff game Wednesday. …

Through Thursday, Bradley (.153) and old pal Travis Shaw (.163) had the two lowest batting averages among qualifying MLB hitters. …

After de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores left for the head Miami job and Greg Schiano came and went like the northeast wind, Bill Belichick found a new DC this week: Belichick. Anyone shocked he’ll be calling the plays? …

Already with Shohei Ohtani back (as a hitter only this season), the Angels added dual threat Jared Walsh this week. The guess here we’ll see more of this in the future. …

This Curry family matchup in the Western finals is fun to watch. …

The Padres achieved baseball immortality the other night, playing the 8,020th game in franchise history without a San Diego pitcher throwing a no-hitter. They snapped the Mets’ record that ended when Johan Santana tossed a no-no in 2012 ….

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a parting shot at the Celtics prior to his Bucks winning the first two games of the Eastern final. “Against Boston, you can go down 1-0 and still be fine; but against Toronto, it’s hard to be in that spot when you lose the first game in your home,” said the Greek Freak. …

When Vlad Guerrero Jr. became the youngest Blue Jay to hit a home run, he broke the team record that belonged to Ainge, set in 1979. …

Michael Chavis after his walk-off hit against the Rockies and the subsequent assault on his body: “I turned, got tackled by Mookie, gave him a hug. So that was great, honestly. I’m a big hugger. I get that from my mom.” …

Kawhi Leonard after his team lost Game 2 to the Bucks in a loud way. Asked “Where do you go from here?” one of the NBA’s best said, “I’m going to Toronto for Game 3.” …

Finally, I will be joining co-author Steve Babineau Monday at 12 p.m. at the Rotary Club of Nashua. We’re looking forward to talking about and selling and signing our book, “The Hometown Team!”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.