How B's might be impacted by a Canadian division in 2020-21 NHL season


The 2020-21 NHL season will no doubt be a unique one because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league is targeting a January start date but hasn't officially announced when the season will begin. It's also unknown when or if fans will be allowed to attend games. One thing we do know is that two marquee events -- the Winter Classic and All-Star Game -- will not take place. 

It's also possible that the divisions could be realigned for next season, and the Canadian teams would be most impacted. 

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The league has not yet officially revealed any division changes, but all the reporting suggests tweaks are inevitable, especially after Friday's news that the NBA's Toronto Raptors will have to begin their 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay due to travel restrictions.

Here's what ESPN's Greg Wyshynski wrote in his latest column regarding divisional changes:

"The All-Canadian division is a near certainty, thanks to border issues that are not going to clear up any time soon. A regionally based divisional format is also likely to cut down on travel costs."

Wyshynski also laid out a divisional setup that he's "heard from a few sources." This particular setup has the Boston Bruins in an "East" division along with the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals."

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At first glance, this division looks like a pretty challenging one for the Bruins. It would include five playoff teams from last season -- six if you include the Rangers, who lost to the Hurricanes in the qualifying round -- and three of the top four teams (Bruins, Flyers, Capitals) in the East from 2019-20. 


However, the Bruins actually fared pretty well against these seven teams last season, earning a 13-1-5 record and outscoring them by a combined 25 goals (H/T to 98.5 The Sports Hub's Ty Anderson).

One disappointing aspect of this division setup for Bruins fans is the loss of games versus the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

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The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry hasn't had the same intensity and hatred that we've seen in years past, but those matchups are usually exciting. The Leafs arguably have been the Bruins' biggest rival for the last several years after meeting in the playoffs three times since 2013.

This type of division format also would open the door to a rekindling of the Bruins-Rangers rivalry, which has seen its share of memorable games -- including the 1972 Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers are entering a new phase without longtime goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the arrival of 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafrenière.

Regardless of what divisions look like next season, the Bruins should still be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.