Could the Boston Bruins start the 2021 shortened season in the same city they played their final regular season game two days before the NHL paused the 2019-20 regular season due to the COVID pandemic arriving in and ravaging North America on March 12?
According to a well-placed source, the NHL is expected to announce their 2021 schedule on Wednesday and the Boston Bruins could be starting the 2021 NHL season on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 13 as the first game in an NBC tripleheader. This source termed it a “really solid chance” that the Boston Bruins and Flyers begin what will be an eight-game regular season series with a two-game set in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’. The source stressed, however, that for a variety of reasons, the situation was still fluid as of Tuesday afternoon and could “change in an instant.”
A league source indicated that while the Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Avalanche had been confirmed as three teams hosting for the NBC tripleheader, the opponents were yet to be officially determined.
On Monday night, our own Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now had a source telling him the same with regards to the Avalanche and but that they would be playing the Blues at home.
Both the sources that spoke to BHN said that a major factor in the schedule still being ironed out on Tuesday is the uncertainty of the North Division in Canada and the effect that could have on arena availability in potentially seven arenas should the teams from north of the border have to head south and set up shop for the season in the United States. There was no confirmation if the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia or TD Garden were being considered to house two NHL teams this season.
If the NHL and NBC do indeed want the Boston Bruins to be part of that season-opening tripleheader, one this is for sure, the Bruins can’t host because the Boston Celtics host the Orlando Magic at TD Garden that night.
Under the format for the second NHL Return to play this year since COVID paused last season, the NHL realigned the league into three divisions in the United States (East, Central, West) and the aforementioned North Division with the seven Canadian NHL teams. The Boston Bruins were placed in the East Division with the Flyers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and the New Jersey Devils.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 20, 2020
Each team in the East, Central, and West Divisions will play only within their divisions and play every other team in their division eight times apiece. The North Division teams will play each other nine to ten times each. The top four teams in each division will make the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and play in their division through the first two rounds and then re-seed based on regular season points for the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
The Boston Bruins and the 23 other clubs who participated in the NHL Return To Play this past summer begin training camp on January 3 while the seven teams that stayed home from the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles, can begin on December 31. The NHL regular season will begin on January 13 and end on May 8. The Stanley Cup playoffs will begin three days later on May 11 and the Stanley Cup Final cannot end later than July 9.
On Monday, Boston Bruins team President Cam Neely confirmed to Joe Haggerty of Boston Hockey Now that the Bruins home schedule at TD Garden will begin without fans in the stands with the hope that as the season goes on, they may be able to filter in small amounts of fans and increase capacity for later in the season and the playoffs. Before they play their first game at TD Garden though, it appears the Boston Bruins may very well kick off the 2021 regular season where they essentially ended the 2019-20 regular season with a 2-0 win behind a 36-save shutout from Vezina Trophy Finalist Tuukka Rask on March 10.