Ryan: The 2021 Bruins are a bit different from teams of years past – and that’s far from a bad thing

(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

Eight months ago, a solemn David Krejci shuffled up to the podium inside a cavernous Scotiabank Arena and fielding questions doled out via a blank computer screen.

The emotions still raw in wake of seeing another promising year crumble before them off of a quick snap shot from Victor Hedman, Krejci and his teammates did what they could to eulogize the 2019-20 Bruins — a veteran club that seemed hellbent on avenging their crushing loss to the Blues in June 2019, only to have all momentum from their Presidents' Trophy campaign sapped away as the world was ground to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while Krejci would have been justified if he used his last presser of the season to bemoan the what could have been nature of this team had we not been plunged into global cataclysm, the B's second-line pivot focused his lens toward the bigger picture. Not only was this double-OT loss to the Lightning closing the chapter on this once-fruitful season — it very well could have closed the book on this Bruins core and just how many kicks at the can they'd have left when it came to hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup once again.

“It just kind of hit me after the game that the core group, a few of us, we have one or two, three years left,” Krejci said. “With the pandemic going on, you never know what’s going to happen. I just got a little sad right now. At the same time, I don’t regret coming into this bubble and fighting for the Stanley Cup.”

A few months later, some of Krejci's fears were validated. Torey Krug — Boston's power-play QB and beloved locker-room fixture — inked a seven-year contract with the Blues. Zdeno Chara, Boston's captain of 14 seasons, signed on with the Capitals just ahead of training camp. 

Yes, some of the key cogs responsible for three trips to the Stanley Cup Final in a decade were still in place, but with stalwarts like Patrice Bergeron (35 years old), Krejci (34 entering the 2021 season), Brad Marchand (32) and Tuukka Rask (33) another year older — there was no guarantee that the B's were once again primed for another deep run.

Two hundred and forty five days after Krejci mourned what could have been the Bruins' last viable chance to lift the greatest trophy in sports for some time, Bruce Cassidy sat down in a familiar setting — staring at a computer screen for a postgame presser, this time within the bowels of the Prudential Center in Newark.

But the message this time around was a lot more hopeful.