Crosby admits red-hot Bruins are 'kind of a different breed right now' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NHL regular season is on pause right now as the league celebrates its best players at the 2023 All-Star Game in Florida this weekend.
The league standings are pretty tight at the All-Star break.
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In the Eastern Conference, six of the eight teams outside of a playoff spot are just six or fewer points from one of the two wild card berths. It's not often we see that many teams still in the mix in early February. The Western Conference isn't as tight in the wild card race, but the divisions are super close. The top four teams in the Pacific Division are separated by just three points. The Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets are separated by just one point atop the Central Division, with the Minnesota Wild not far behind.
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The tight standings should create some pretty exciting playoff races over the final two months of the regular season.
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One team that's opened up a wide gap between itself and the rest of the league is the Boston Bruins. The B's lead the Presidents' Trophy race with a 39-7-5 record and a seven-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the East.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was asked Friday about the tight standings, and he snuck in some praise for the first-place Bruins.
"It's hard to say at what points we were in this position in other years -- but I think the league as a whole, everyone is super tight. Boston is kind of a different breed right now," Crosby told reporters before the All-Star Skills competition Friday afternoon. "But I think everyone else on a nightly basis, you understand teams are tightly matched and you're going to be in a fight for the rest of the year regardless of where you're at in the standings."
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Would Crosby change anything about the current playoff format if he was in charge of it?
"I like 1-to-8 (seeding) just because if the regular season is as difficult as it is, teams should be rewarded," Crosby explained. "I guess that's probably the best way you can be rewarded, even though there's not a ton of difference. I like that version a little bit better."
If the season ended today, the Bruins would play Crosby's Penguins in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite being two of the best teams in the league for about 15 years, the Bruins and Penguins have squared off in just one playoff series during that span -- the 2013 Eastern Conference Final won by Boston in a sweep.
The Bruins are 2-0-0 versus the Penguins this season, including a 2-1 victory in the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. But none of that matters in the playoffs, where every team gets a clean slate.