NESN Diary: How NHL’s Return To Play Plan Impacts Bruins (And Other Random Thoughts)

To no fault of anyone involved, the reality is that the Boston Bruins holding the NHL’s best record through 70 games doesn’t carry forward the same weight it usually does.

The Bruins, of course, were the best team in hockey until the coronavirus pandemic paused the NHL season March 12. They secured both the most points and wins, marking the organization’s first Presidents’ Trophy since 2013-14 all the more well-deserved.

And the 2019-20 honors don’t stop there, either. David Pastrnak earned Bruins history as the club’s first winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, which he shared with Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin. Additionally, goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined for the William M. Jennings Trophy after recording the best goals-against average in the league (2.39).

That’s all positive.

Unfortunately, however, all that has given them is a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round bye. That, to some, may be considered a negative.

It follows an announcement on Tuesday from Gary Bettman. The NHL commissioner revealed the league’s return-to-play plan concluded the 2019-20 regular season with the NHL now transitioning, following a four-phase implementation, directly to the postseason. The postseason will include 24 teams (12 from each conference), and while the location isn’t yet verified, there are 10 hub cities the league is considering.

With the Bruins earning one of the top-four seeds, they’ll benefit by playing in a round-robin tournament against three of the best Eastern Conference teams. That tournament ultimately could earn the Bruins the conference’s No. 1 overall seed, and thus, home ice advantage.

Another positive? The scenario gives the Bruins meaningful games against the top teams in the conference as they look to get back following a multi-month hiatus. Oh yeah, and they get to do so without the pressure of being eliminated just as soon as they get back and comfortable.

The negative? Well, some may say the Bruins already earned the No. 1 seed and now are having to play for it all over again.

The reality is that the unprecedented scenario was going to have flaws. Isn’t this format better than the league scratching the rest of the 2019-20 season and postseason?

The Bruins have everything they want right in front of them. Still. And putting together a plan to get players back on the ice is a step in the right direction.

Here are some other random thoughts from the day in sports.

— It was another big day for the 2020 Bills > 2020 Patriots crowd.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweeted that she could see Buffalo dethroning New England in the AFC East, while colleague Ryan Clark agreed. Clark explained why he thought the Patriots didn’t have “enough to win the East” while on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday.

The Worldwide Leader’s “Football Power Index” gave the Patriots a 60 percent chance on reaching the postseason. Ironically, they’re tied with the Bills, who had the same project win total (8.6 wins) and identical 60 percent on reaching the playoffs.

— Unfortunately, the baseball season doesn’t seem closer today than it did yesterday.

The MLB Players Association on Tuesday reportedly explained that were “very disappointed” with the owners first proposal. Those around the MLB were hoping for a return to the diamond around Fourth of July, but will need to make some significant headway in order for that to remain on schedule.

— I can’t help but agree with Pat McAfee.

One of the main reasons why I found Sunday’s “The Match” so entertaining is because the GOAT of the NFL was, in large part, unimpressive during his 18-hole round at Medalist Golf Club.

I was, for once, able to compare myself to Tom Brady. Well, at least comparing in regards to the fact that I hit the ball into the woods, too. And I skull the ball to the other side of the green with a wedge, too. If Brady looked anything close to how he does on the football field, well, he may have just made more enemies. Nobody likes the guy who is good at everything.

Tweet of the Day

The NHL’s update prompted some updated odds. And they’re some Bruins fans are going to be able to get behind.

Video of the Day

Remember Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS? Let Manny help jog your memory with a towering two-out walk off in the bottom of the 9th.

I miss those days.

Stat of the Day

Remember ESPN’s “Football Power Index” we were talking about?

Well, it calculated the chance of the Patriots playing Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, and came up with a 0.5 percent probability that it will happen.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

Picked For You