In most NHL campaigns, a Stanley Cup contender plummeting from the top spot in its conference down to the No. 4 seed under a week would be viewed as a catastrophic turn of events.
Of course, this isn’t like most seasons — and such sentiment was evidently clear as the Bruins spoke at the podium following Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Lightning in round-robin play.
With Wednesday’s loss at the hands of a Steven Stamkos-less Tampa team, the Bruins — the lone club to eclipse the 100-point mark at the time of the NHL’s months-long pause — saw their standing atop the Eastern Conference leaderboard collapse underneath them.
Now with zero points accrued through the first two games of round-robin action, Boston's ability to claw itself out of the current pit it dug for itself is fairly limited.
The highest Boston can now advance is the No. 3 seed, for which the B's are going to need the Capitals — yes, the same club that has won 16 of its last 18 meetings against Boston — to either lose/only gain one point against the Flyers on Thursday evening before beating Washington themselves on Sunday.
If not, the Bruins will advance as the lowest seed among the top dogs in the East, setting the stage for Bruce Cassidy's club to wade into the playoff waters with a first-round bout against ... Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and No. 5 seed Pittsburgh Penguins.
Not good. Not good at all.
"Well that part sucks, I’m not going to lie to you," Cassidy said postgame. "But, that’s the situation this year with the stoppage of play.
Now, in this revamped playoff tournament, seeding is not nearly as vital to a club's playoff hopes as it usually is. Yes, holding on to last change for the majority of a seven-game series gives you a leg up, but with home-ice advantage and the usual lift provided by a raucous barn negated during this postseason slate, the usual perks most contenders rely on over the course of two-plus months of playoff action have fallen to the wayside this summer.
"If you want to make a run in the playoffs you have to beat every team anyways," Tuukka Rask said. "The situation is what it is. I think the worst case that’s going to happen is we’re going to lose the locker room in our practice rink so that’s about it. I really don’t care where we finish. We just have to focus on our game and try to improve that come Sunday and going into next week. You got to beat everybody anyways, so whatever."
"We knew the rules going into it," Cassidy added. "That we would lose a bit of the advantage we’d gained. We are where we are now. We’re just trying to win a hockey game right now, get our game together for 60 minutes so that we can be at our best so that whoever we meet – this is one year I do believe the seeding is less relevant than others."
Are they right? I mean, yeah, sure. I guess. It's already a foolhardy move to predict which club is truly going to strike gold on the outset of any Stanley Cup run, this year especially.
So yeah, the Bruins aren't dwelling too much over their current drop in the Eastern Conference standings. That's good news, because based on what we've seen so far up in Toronto, there's a whole lot that this roster should fretting over than who they play in the following round.
Was Wednesday's loss