Do the Boston Bruins really make out in a newly COVID-19 configured division where they don’t get to beat up on the Senators, Red Wings and Panthers along with the Sabres as they have in the past? That’s the theory floated by The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa because the Bruins aren’t going to have to deal with usual Atlantic Division rivals Tampa Bay and Toronto due to the proposed COVID-19 realignment planned for the upcoming 2021 NHL season.
Instead, the Bruins will have perennial playoff powers in Washington, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh, the much-improved New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, and the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils in their division. They are losing both the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings as doormat teams where they could simply show up to pile up points, and that’s going to make it a little tougher overall for Boston in a season that will be unconventional for any number of reasons.
Sure, they will be able to presumably avoid the Lightning until the playoffs, and that means skipping out on the reigning Stanley Cup champs that very clearly have their number. The young, talented core group of Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev are going to give the Boston Bruins fits for years. And the confidence that comes with finally winning a Cup is going to make them that much more formidable.
But the Washington Capitals have owned the Bruins for a decade, and they still have a big, bullying group that routinely tosses the B’s around even if goaltender Braden Holtby has moved on after tormenting Boston for years. So, the Bruins are trading out one team that has their number for a similar Metro Division team in Washington that routinely has kicked the crap out of them.
And with the Capitals, Flyers, Penguins and Islanders, it’s going to be a top-to-bottom better division than what they have been used to in recent years with some order of Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto…and then everybody else in the Atlantic Division. The way things look with the divisions right now, you could make the argument that the Bruins are looking at a wild card spot where it’s going to be a dog fight for the top three divisional playoff spots.
So, have the Bruins “lucked out” in realignment? Well, not really. You could make the argument that they actually got hosed.
Now on to the puck links:
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Kingerski asks if it’s time for Jake Guentzel to be ranked among the NHL’s best forwards? It’s an interesting question backed up with some numbers, but I’m not he strikes fear in the hearts of opponents quite yet. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
*My partner-in-crime Jimmy Murphy has NHL superstars Patrik Laine and Steve Stamkos headlining the trade discussions that are starting to percolate in his “Off the Record” column. Laine is going to be an interesting one because that kid can score goals and has every quality you would want from a top-end sniper. (Boston Hockey Now)
*A year ago today, Dan Vladar made 42 saves and Jack Studnicka scored his 12th goal of the season for the Providence Bruins. Boy, it’s going to be nice to have hockey back isn’t it?
On this date in 2019, the P-Bruins shutout SPR 5-0 behind 42 saves from Dan Vladar. Jack Studnicka scored his 12th of the season & Paul Carey his 14th, but which P-Bruins defenseman kicked off the scoring with his 1st goal of the season?#TriviaTuesday | @BankRhodeIsland pic.twitter.com/CyjT0DKTZx
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) December 15, 2020
*Interesting story about Don Cherry’s forgotten seasons coaching a Pittsford, New York high school hockey team prior to coaching in the NHL. He actually coached both a high school and the Rochester Americans for a season, which is crazy to think about. (WBUR)
*FOH Mike Harrington has a lot of questions he needs answered prior to the NHL dropping the puck for the 2021 (we can just call it the 2021 NHL season at this point, right) season. (Buffalo News)
*The New York Rangers continue to be ecstatic with the development of young D-man prospect Zac Jones with the UMass hockey program. (New York Post)
*For something completely different: I could watch this never-before-seen footage from Empire Strike Back all day long. (Good Morning America)
EXCLUSIVE: I’m excited to share rare & never-seen footage, outtakes & bloopers from #StarWars “The Empire Strikes Back”! Amazing moments with Harrison & Carrie, plus @HamillHimself‘s “Tauntaun Dance”. A gift to you from my favorite Lucasfilm elves. #ESB40 https://t.co/3Rfe1qyr2i
— Clayton Sandell (@Clayton_Sandell) December 15, 2020