How about the NHL Atlantic Division, eh?
Each and every season it feels like we prognosticators in the media declare the Atlantic Division to be the toughest, strongest and deepest division in the league, and more often than not it turns out to be true. It didn’t happen this season, obviously, because of COVID-19 realignment with the traditional divisions busted up with half of the division relocated to either the North or the Central Division for this season.
But when it was all settled in this unique playoff format, it will be two members of the Atlantic Division meeting up for the Stanley Cup title this season with the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning ready to do battle. Clearly this was the expected outcome for a Lightning team that captured the Cup last season and enjoyed another strong regular season this year, but the Canadiens surprised with a Cinderella run through the Canadian division.
It’s just too bad the Boston Bruins couldn’t keep winning to make the dream Bruins/Canadiens scenario happen in the Stanley Cup Final this season.
It might feel like a bit of an accident that the Habs have made it this far, but it’s no accident that two traditional Atlantic Division teams are now vying for the Cup based on what we’ve seen over the last few seasons. Habs vs. Bolts stands as proof positive that once again the Atlantic Division cranks out top quality hockey clubs every season.
Now on to the BHN Puck Links:
*Could Jake Voracek be a candidate for the Seattle Kraken to snag a top-6 forward in the upcoming NHL expansion draft? Hmmm. (Philly Hockey Now)
*The Washington Capitals are hoping for big things from 2019 first round pick Connor McMichael as they approach some interesting salary cap days ahead. (Washington Hockey Now)
*The Red Wings could have close to $30 million in cap space after they take care of their RFAs, which could make them a major player this NHL offseason. (Detroit Hockey Now)
*As you would expect, the Boston Bruins are a top trade suitor for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the Coyotes begin exploring a trade sending him away from the desert this offseason. (The Hockey News)
*The Boston Bruins could do a lot worse than Alec Martinez as their elusive left shot defenseman for the top-4 as he approaches unrestricted free agency. Martinez manned up and played through the playoff run for Vegas with a broken foot. That’s the kind of toughness every team can use. (Sportsnet)
*This all alludes to plenty of big, earth-shattering roster decisions away the Boston Bruins this offseason, which we explore in this week’s Hagg Bag mailbag. (Boston Hockey Now)
*Speaking of the Bruins, it was 18 years ago this week that the Boston Bruins drafted Patrice Bergeron and really changed the trajectory of their organization in a great, great way.
— Hannah (@babybergy37_) June 22, 2021
*Would you look at Stephen A. Smith and PK Subban “doing that hockey” for ESPN as they ready for the Stanley Cup Final.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) June 25, 2021
*For something completely different: This Shohei Ohtani does some of the most amazing things I’ve seen on a baseball field since Bo Jackson.
Ridiculously talented. The last MLB player I remember being this consistently eye-popping with his gifts on the baseball field was Bo Jackson. https://t.co/ddmnhDXnQU
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) June 27, 2021