Dave Poulin on D&K explains why Bruins would accept format that might cost them top seed

Scott McLaughlin
May 26, 2020 - 2:27 pm

The Bruins might have been one of the teams most tempted to vote against the NHL's 24-team playoff plan given that they could potentially lose their No. 1 seed in a three-game round-robin tournament, but they didn't vote against it. In fact, only two teams did -- the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes.

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Appearing on Dale and Keefe Tuesday, former Bruin and current TSN analyst Dave Poulin explained why teams like Boston would support this proposal even if it isn't perfect.

"I think if you took virtually every team in the mix, other than the eight teams that are being added that wouldn’t have been in, this is going to be unfair to everyone in some way," Poulin said. "It just is. There’s not going to be a level playing field for everyone. If you’re one of those top eight teams, you want to play and you want to try to make it competitive. You need some incentive at some point. To put the seeding factor in for those top-eight games, it just makes it more of a real game. Is it going to be perfect? No, it’s not. … The fact that the players are playing for something in that top-eight grouping is more significant to me than how it turns out."

Add in the fact that home-ice advantage won't exist for games played in a central hub city without fans in attendance, and it's understandable that the Bruins would be willing to put their top seed on the line if it's what they have to do for the season to resume.

In related NHL news, the league put out a 22-page document outlining its plan for Phase 2 of its return to play protocol, which would allow players to return to team facilities in small groups, possibly as early as the next week or two.

Poulin said there are a couple things in that document that players probably wanted to see, too.

"I think that the players’ health is paramount," Poulin said. "I think that’s dictated throughout, and that’s what the players want to see. Something that was mentioned in terms of transitioning back, in terms of living arrangements, is that families were mentioned. I think that’s something you wouldn’t have seen 15, 20, 25 years ago, that if families were to join players that those costs would be covered and accommodations would be made."

One thing that surprised Poulin, though, is that Phase 2 calls for no coaches at the small-group practices. Poulin thinks social distancing to protect coaches would have been very doable.

"From a player’s standpoint, I’m a little surprised by one thing, and that is that there isn’t the inclusion of a coach or an instructor when the six players get on the ice," he said. "So essentially what you’re saying is that this is captain’s practice. That surprises me, but I assume it’s driven by the players, that they don’t want to be told exactly what to do right when they get back. But it does surprise me, because it’s not physical distancing. The coach could stand on the bench and the six players on the ice could be a distance away and still be instructed on what to do."

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Related: A reminder of how Bruins have fared against their round-robin tournament opponents