Things are going to look different this year with the NHL as it tries to pull off a season without a bubble as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts states across the country.
Therefore, the league reportedly is realigning its divisions in hopes that cutting down on travel will make things safer during the reported shortened 56-game regular season.
The reported details of those realigned divisions certainly are going to make things interesting.
Especially for the Boston Bruins. Here’s who they apparently got thrown in with:
Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals
So the good news is that Boston no longer has to be grouped with the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, as it normally would be in the Atlantic Division.
The not great news?
Of all the reported new divisions, this certainly looks to be the most difficult of the four by a long shot. These realignments are not official and subject to change, but essentially, the Bruins and Sabres might be injected into the Metropolitan Division in place of the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets.
So right off the bat, Boston will need to take advantage of games against Buffalo and New Jersey. Sabres star center Jack Eichel is a fantastic player, and the new addition of left winger Taylor Hall certainly helps them improve, but both Buffalo and the Devils are in rebuilding stages.
But the other teams won’t be a cake walk.
Even the Rangers, after drafting No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafrenière in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, have potential to score a lot of goals against a Bruins defense that will be a bit younger this season — save for Zdeno Chara should he re-sign in Boston — and without Torey Krug, who signed with the St. Louis Blues.
Then there’s the Flyers, Penguins, Islanders and Capitals. All of whom are legit.
Boston was 1-2-1 against a Philadelphia team that saw little turnover last year and always is a pesky opponent for the Bruins. And though the Islanders perhaps were the most surprising team to make a deep run to the Eastern Conference Final, they’re well coached and will be an exciting team going forward. The Bruins came out on top of the season series against the Islanders last season, (2-0-1) but two of those games went to overtime.
As for the Penguins and Capitals, need we say more than they boast Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, respectively?
Crosby will be rehabbed an ready to go from the core muscle surgery he underwent last season that caused him to miss significant time, and he’s second among active NHL players in points per game.
As for Ovechkin, he shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with David Pastrnak for most goals scored in the league last season, and in their last 19 tilts against the Capitals, the Bruins have lost 17.
Oh and Pastrnak?
He, along with Brad Marchand could miss some time in an already shortened season as they recover from offseason surgery.
We can’t state this enough: these are just knee-jerk reactions to what is rumored to happen for the upcoming season. But if this is how the divisions shake out, the Bruins certainly have their work cut out for them.