It appears the Boston Bruins and the NHL will soon be back on the ice and we are less than a month away from the first regular-season game.
The Boston Bruins and the rest of the NHL is closer to beginning the 2021 season. Several reports have been confirmed over the last couple of days that hockey will be back on Jan. 13 as the NHL and NHLPA have come to an official agreement on the upcoming season.
For the second season in a row, the NHL will play a shortened regular season with new divisional alignments. There will be no travel over the U.S./Canadian border, so all the teams in Canada will play in one division, while the team in the United States will be broken up into three regionalized divisions.
Let’s take a look at what we know the new NHL season will look like.
56 regular-season games and playoffs
There will be a 56-game regular-season with new regionalized divisional alignments. The Bruins will be in the East with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals.
There will also be Central and West Divisions in the United States and an all-Canadian Division for teams North of the Border.
The top four teams will qualify for inter-divisional playoffs for the first two rounds. Each division will then send the survivor to the semifinals with the other three winners and they will be seeded based on regular-season points. As of now, the plan is to have each team play in their home arenas.
There will be no preseason games as there will just be a training camp. The 24 teams that played in the Return to Play over the summer in Toronto and Edmonton will begin their camps on Jan. 3. Teams that did not play over the summer can open their camps as early as Dec. 31.
Players have started returning to their club’s home cities to begin the mandatory COVID-19 testing. According to Elliotte Friedman, there will be 36 skaters in camp with an unlimited amount of goaltenders.
With no preseason games, that gives Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy time to evaluate players as there will be extra players with the club in 2021 besides their normal 23-game night roster. There will be a taxi squad this season that will be 4-6 players on each team as health for any player on a team can come into play at any time and they be moved into isolation.
With Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak recovering from surgeries in September and their availability for the beginning of the season in question, the Bruins have some young players that could be on the Opening Night roster or on the taxi squad.
Here are some other key dates that fans need to keep an eye on moving toward 2021.
The trade deadline is April 12 and the end of the regular season will be May 8. The latest date to play a Game 7 in the Stanly Cup Final is July 15. It’s worth noting that the league has not officially released a team-by-team regular-season schedule yet.
The Seattle Kracken expansion draft will be held on July 21and the two-day NHL Entry Draft begins two days later on July 23. Free agency will begin on July 28.
Those dates are way down the line, but the fact that hockey is less than a month away is a great way to end 2020.