( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: BNG Staff | Follow Us On Twitter @BlackNGoldPod

The 103rd National Hockey League season tragically ended back in mid-March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The world and way of life pretty much stopped as we all know as the social distancing factor became real and having fans in the stands we to risky and shutdown by the CDC.

The results were a cancellation of the remaining games during the 2019-20 NHL season. But on the bright side, the season restarted, and the Boston Bruins ended up as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. However, after resting for the qualifying round, the Bruins smashed their way through the Carolina Hurricanes, 4 to 1. However, the Boston Bruins collided with the Tampa Bay Lightning and got the same treatment they just gave to the Hurricanes, a 4-1 ousting from the playoffs. The Lighting would go on to beat the Dallas Stars in the Stanely Cup Finals, 4-2.

So, what of the 2021 Season?

The plan was originally an October start and April finish.  However, thanks to coronavirus, we get a January 1st, 2021 start date. 

The iteration of the pandemic adjusted 2020-2021 season had faceoffs starting on December 1st. However, Gary Bettman believes pushing back another month offers the most chance at a normal season. Plus, there is the players association to think about. The idea is to have a full 82 game regular season. So, we are likely to see the NHL doing something similar to the NBA’s plans of playing back-to-back home games to limit travel and compress the schedule. This way, a visiting team would play two nights in a row to knock out a chunk of the season series between the two teams.

In many ways, this might actually be easier on players – if they opt for scheduling similar to this. It would perhaps make road trips longer but easier because the travel would be less and spread out over more days. For example, an East Coast team like the Bruins that has a long road stretch traveling down to Tampa, then back up to Philly, then up to the Canadiens, then back down to the Florida Panthers, would potentially spend multiple nights at each venue before moving on, giving the players less time on planes and busses.

Who are the Early Favorites to Win the Cup in 2021?

According to the NHL Odds Boards at SBR, the Boston Bruins opened up at +1100 (11/1) but have since moved up to +1000. So, at the moment, they are second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Eastern Conference and just behind the Colorado Avalanch and Las Vegas Golden Knights, who are currently all tied for on the board at +750 a piece (15/2). 

Once again, it’s looking like the Atlantic division may be the toughest in the league, although the Metro really picked it up last season.  

One question is how competitive the Maple Leafs will be? Another problem is, will the Lighting still be such a bad matchup for the Bruins? 

Some are thinking the Bruins are on their way to a couple of years down-swing. We have three of the top six: Krejci, Marchand, and Bergeron, all hitting their mid-thirties. In the real world, that’s not old, but this is a league that keeps getting younger and younger. Another concern is the blue line. Looking at Matt Grzelcyk, McAvoy, Lauzon, and Carlo. Is this the Top 4 if players like Krug and Chara leave? Like The Hockey, Guy said on his YouTube channel, although individually in a rotation, each of these four players are good, but as a Top 4, the bruins are not going to strike fear into the hearts of many opponents. 

There has been a lot of talk about Tuukka Rask leaving. But don’t believe the hype! He’ll be back for another season. That said, this could be his last year in Boston. On top of that, this is probably also the last season we’ll see Jaroslav Halak. Without an excellent draft in recent years, this may be the last chance for a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup for a few years. 

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