The Boston Bruins enter the 2013-14 NHL season as the reigning Eastern Conference champion, and an early favorite to win the Stanley Cup. One of the potential roadblocks between the Bruins and the Cup is the off-season realignment from six divisions down to four.
The Bruins, formerly in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference, are now in the Atlantic Division with former divisional rivals the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as less familiar foes like the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although this change will result in more games against one of hockey’s best teams, the Red Wings, it will also give the Bruins a lot of games against some of the worst teams in hockey in the Panthers and Lightning. It will also result in less games against the Senators, Maple Leafs and Canadiens, all of whom made the playoffs last season.
Overall, Boston will play in a tougher division this year than they did a season ago. The Senators, Red Wings and Canadiens all look better than they did last year. The Maple Leafs — who were one period away from eliminating the Bruins in last year’s playoffs — are a year older, and hungry to avenge the embarrassing end to last season. Plus, the Sabres, Panthers and Lightning each have some marquee names on their roster, and won’t be as easy to beat as some fans may think.
It should be a fun season in the Atlantic Division, and only time will tell how the realignment will impact the 2013-14 Boston Bruins.