The Boston Bruins had the NHL’s best record (44-14-12) when the regular season was stopped in March in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. However when the 16-team Stanley Cup playoff competition begins one week from now, the Bruins won’t be the favorite in the Eastern Conference.
As a major aspect of the NHL’s restarted season, a round-robin competition was made to give the top four teams in every conference meaningful games before they face the champs from the eight-team qualification-round series. Seeding for the accompanying rounds was to be dictated by how teams fared in the round robin, with regular-season points percentages going about as the tiebreakers.
Boston opened the East’s round-robin competition with misfortunes to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, making it mathematically impossible for the Bruins to win the first or second seed in the East.
The Bruins claimed the regular season. However, two misfortunes in this postseason format delivered that achievement meaningless.
“That part sucks. I’m not going to lie to you,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But that’s the situation this year with the stoppage in play. We knew the rules coming into it, that we would lose a bit of the advantage we gained.”
The Bruins were more competitive in their 3-2 misfortune to Tampa than they were in a 4-1 misfortune to the Flyers in their postseason opener. They get done with a game against the Washington Capitals on Aug. 9.
“We are where we are now,” Cassidy said. “We’re just trying to win a hockey game right now, get our game together so we can be our best, no matter who we meet.”
Which team the Bruins will meet in the playoff quarterfinals is a secret. For the first since 2012, the NHL is reseeding its playoff rounds. In spite of the fact that the seeding is significant in deciding adversaries, the games will be played inside void buildings. Subsequently, “home ice advantage” isn’t as significant as it would be in common postseasons, Cassidy said.
“This is one year where I think seeding is less relevant than others,” he said. Be that as it may, in the wake of getting done with a .714 points percentage – the best for the franchise since 1973-74 – watching the favorite in the East slip away in only two games was an inconvenience.
“Would I rather be No. 1? Keep it? Absolutely. But that’s not going to happen,” Cassidy said. “You gotta win 16 games. We knew that going in. That’ll still be our goal.”