Well, that was intense. Now, it’s time to turn the page.
The Bruins’ 2018-19 season was long, successful and entertaining, even though Boston fell short of its ultimate goal Wednesday night when the St. Louis Blues took down the Black and Gold in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. The B’s undoubtedly will take some time to catch their breath, but then it’ll be back to work as Bruce Cassidy’s team looks to rebound from the devastation of losing a winner-take-all showdown on its home ice.
ESPN.com already has moved on, releasing way-too-early NHL power rankings for the 2019-20 season shortly after St. Louis’ Cup-clinching victory. Boston rank No. 2, just behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who posted by far the best record during the regular season in 2019-20 before falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets via a four-game sweep in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
ESPN.com’s blurb for the Bruins read: “Maintaining excellence after a Stanley Cup Final run is never easy. But that’s the bar Boston has set for itself.”
The Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maples rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, behind the Lightning and Bruins.
The power rankings — the product of ESPN’s hockey editorial staff projecting how it thinks each team will be rated heading into next season — took into account recent success and other factors, including which players could be leaving via free agency. The Bruins finished the 2018-19 regular season ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s power rankings before defeating the Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes en route to the Cup Final.