The NHL is going to look different in several ways during the 2020-21 season, and one of them is the makeup of the four divisions.
Travel restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to force the league to put all the Canadian teams in one division. This would leave the 24 franchises located in the United States in the other three divisions.
The league has not yet announced an official layout of the divisions for the upcoming season, but TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Wednesday what they look like right now.
The Boston Bruins would be in one of the most competitive divisions.
Boston's division includes the teams that finished first (Bruins), fifth (Capitals), sixth (Flyers), seventh (Penguins) and 14th (Islanders) in the overall standings last season. Two of the other teams -- the Sabres and Rangers -- made significant improvements in the offseason.
Another downside to this alignment for Bruins fans is the absence of rivalry games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. That said, this division presents an opportunity for the Bruins to rekindle old rivalries with the Flyers, Rangers and Penguins.
The Tampa Bay Lightning also move out of the Bruins' division under this format. The defending Stanley Cup champions headline what looks like a Central division, which, on paper, is the weakest of the four groups.
These division realignments would only be for the 2020-21 season. The league and NHLPA reportedly are targeting a Jan. 13 start date for the upcoming campaign.