Bruins

Torey Krug hopes he hasn't already played last game for Boston Bruins

Torey Krug hopes he hasn't already played last game for Boston Bruins

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug mentioned several times he has “no clarity” on his future after sitting down for a Boston Bruins-organized Zoom conference call with B’s media members on Tuesday afternoon.

After all, pretty much nobody has any kind of clarity about what’s going to happen over the next few months as regions of the United States are attempting to slow down a global coronavirus outbreak with hot spots in places like Boston.

But there’s another level to the uncertainty for Krug as a looming unrestricted free agent once this 2019-20 season has been finished, one way or the other. Krug hopes that there is some manner of resumption of the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs over the next few months, and just as passionately hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a member of the Bruins.

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“For me personally, I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin. It’s been a special place for me and my family to grow. My love for the game and playing in front of these fans has been very special to me. But [this situation] hasn’t given me any clarity,” said Krug, who also mentioned there have been no contract discussions with the Bruins since the season went on pause in early March. “It makes you wonder about this process a little more because I was just in the moment thinking only about helping my team win games and hopefully push our team toward winning a championship.

But now the season is on pause and I’m definitely wondering what’s going to happen. But in terms of clarity, there pretty much has been none. I can’t put any assumptions on it, but I can only guess that things are going to look different from a salary cap perspective next season. Team structures as well are going to be affected by it, but I have no clarity about it. I wish I had a better answer for that, but it’s just the reality of the situation.

Krug had nine goals and 49 points in 61 games this season for the Bruins and was moving toward a big payday this summer — whether it was in Boston or somewhere else.

Based on comparable deals for other elite NHL defensemen across the NHL, a long-term teal in the range of $6-8 million per season was pretty much an automatic no matter where he was going to sign. It remains to be seen how much a lowered salary cap ceiling would impact player contracts for guys like Krug, but he’s clearly going into the situation with his eyes wide open.

There’s also very little clarity on when the NHL season will resume, or even if it can resume as the league explores options like summer Stanley Cup playoff hockey and neutral site locations for playoff hockey without any fans in the stands.

Krug has consistently said he wants to remain with the Bruins and might even take less to do exactly that when it’s all said and done, but there also hadn’t been a lot of documented progress in contract talks between the player and team to this point either.

It remains to be seen how Krug’s situation will play out, or if the player will get his wish to at the very least finish out the rest of what’s become a long, strange year with the Bruins.

David Pastrnak falls short of milestone, but still makes Bruins history

David Pastrnak falls short of milestone, but still makes Bruins history

When the NHL suspended its regular season in mid-March, David Pastrnak's quest for 50 goals was put on hold. 

On Tuesday, that quest officially ended when Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that when the league does resume play, it will jump directly to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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With 48 goals in 70 games, the 24-year-old budding superstar finishes just shy of the elusive half-century mark, a milestone that no Bruin has reached since Cam Neely in the 1993-94 season.

Overall, five Bruins have scored at least 50 goals in a season: Phil Esposito (5 times), Neely (3 times), Rick Middleton, Ken Hodge, and Johnny Bucyk. With a dozen games left in the regular season, Pastrnak easily would have become the sixth Bruin with a 50-goal campaign if the global COVID-19 pandemic hadn't halted the season.

But Pastrnak was still able to achieve a feat that no Bruin has accomplished since the mid-70s.

His 48 goals are tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most in the NHL this season, meaning the two players will share the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal-scorer. Pastrnak becomes the first Bruin to lead the league in scoring since Esposito accomplished the feat in six straight seasons, from 1969-70 to 1974-75.

Pastrnak, who also led the league with 20 power-play goals and tied for the league lead with 10 game-winning goals, becomes only the fifth Bruin who played the entire season in Boston to lead the league in goals, joining Esposito, Bronco Horvath (tied with Bobby Hull in 1959-60), Roy Conacher (in 1938-39), and Cooney Weiland (in 1929-30).

The cancellation of the rest of the league's 2019-20 regular season means that the Bruins also won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 2013-14 with a league-high 100 points, while the B's goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak claims the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league this season (167 for a 2.39 goals against average).

Stanley Cup odds 2020: Updated betting lines after 24-team return format unveiled

Stanley Cup odds 2020: Updated betting lines after 24-team return format unveiled

The NHL announced Tuesday a return-to-play plan that will consist of a 24 teams, as well as the format to be used for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was a positive step for sports fans hoping to see the return of live games this summer.

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Given the unique situation surrounding COVID-19, it's difficult (if not impossible) to find a format that benefits all 24 teams fairly. Some teams will benefit more than others, but a return with a different format than normal is still better than the 2019-20 season not resuming at all.

The Stanley Cup currently belongs to the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Boston Bruins in a hard-fought seven-game 2019 Stanley Cup Final series. These two teams both sit atop their respective conferences and, under the 24-team format, they will automatically earn a berth into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins, Blues and the other top-four teams in each conference will play a round robin format to determine their seeding for the first round.

Boston and St. Louis also are among the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup following the league's return-to-play announcement.

Here are the latest Stanley Cup odds, via William Hill:

The Bruins finished the regular season with the best record and also ranked No. 1 with a plus-53 goal differential. Boston is aiming to become the first team since the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins to lose in the Stanley Cup Final and come back to win it the following season. 

It's impossible to predict how the long layoff will impact these teams, but there are some benefits for the Bruins. They've played a ton of hockey in recent seasons, and the roster as a whole is not a young one. The rest could help, and some of the team's players who were battling injuries before the season was suspended have had extra time to heal. The Bruins' veteran core also has played many years together, and it has loads of playoff experience.

Picking a winner in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is one of the hardest tasks in sports, but if the league is successful in returning to game action, the Bruins will have a great shot to get back to the Stanley Cup Final and win their first championship since 2011.