Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the NHL in mid-March of 2020, the Boston Bruins were on pace to win the Atlantic Division as the only team in the league with 100 points through their first 70 games.
Following the playoff bubbles in Canada last summer, which saw the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup, the NHL had a different look for the 2020-21 season. Four new realigned divisions, which included a Canadian Division only, for the season also brought a new 2021 NHL playoff format. That new playoff format brought a different-looking postseason, which is down to the final two teams.
The Stanley Cup Final begins with Game 1 of the best-of-seven series tonight at Amalie Arena in Tampa with the Lightning hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Two of the Bruins Atlantic Division rivals will be battling for the Cup and this should be a warning sign for the Black and Gold heading into the 2021-22 season. Things could get a lot tougher back in the division.
Why do the Bruins need to have interest in the Stanley Cup Final?
It is expected that the NHL goes back to their “normal” season in 2021-22 with teams being put back in their regular divisions. If that does happen, the Bruins will have the two teams playing in the Cup Final this season with them in what could be a loaded Atlantic Division.
Yes, the Lightning and Canadiens would be back, but they are not going to be the only two teams that Boston will have to worry about. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who won the Canadian Division this year with 77 points are back. Also returning to the Atlantic would be the much-improved and dangerous Florida Panthers. The Panthers finished second in the Central Division with 79 points and will be another team that will push the Bruins.
Montreal finished 24-21-11, good enough for 59 points, and claimed the fourth and final Canadian Division playoff spot. After falling behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Leafs, they rallied to win the final three games, added another chapter in Toronto’s playoff misery, and find themselves playing for a championship after upsetting the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights.
Boston has several key questions surrounding a lot of major free agents this summer, as well as the Seattle Kracken Expansion Draft in mid-July, which could go a long way into building a roster for the 2021-22 season. The front office has said that they would like to make another run at a title with the core group, so expect to see the Black and Gold be aggressive this summer in free agency or through trades.
One thing they will have to take into consideration is if the league goes back to the normal divisions next season, their road to even get into the playoffs will get harder within their division. Offseason moves that are made should be made to not only make them contenders for a championship, but also a contender in the Atlantic Division.