Rule changes boost Bruins in regular-season record quest
BOSTON — It takes a little bit of hockey history to put the Boston Bruins' run at a record-breaking season in context.
The Bruins are on pace to surpass 62 wins, the NHL record set in 1995-96 by the Red Wings and matched by the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning. Detroit did it in the first year of the current 82-game schedule. Before that, teams played anywhere from 22 games per season at the league’s founding in 1917 to 84 games from 1992-94.
The Bruins also have a shot at the NHL record of 132 points set by the 1976-77 Canadiens, who played an 80-game season and didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate points for overtime or shootout wins.
For more than 40 years, games were called a draw if they were tied at the end of regulation, and both teams received one point. Since 2005, games cannot end in a tie. Teams now play a five-minute sudden death overtime, followed by a shootout if necessary; the winning team gets two points, the OT or shootout loser gets one point and a regulation loser gets zero.
“The game has changed so much,” said Murray Wilson, a forward on the record-setting Canadiens.
It's important to view achievements in the context of their era. When Roger Maris approached Babe Ruth’s single-season mark of 60 home runs, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick suggested that record books note Maris was playing in a 162-game season, while Ruth had just 154 tries.
More recently, NFL quarterbacks have taken advantage of decades of offense-friendly rule changes to obliterate marks set by their predecessors.
And this season, when LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record of 38,387 points, he did so with the benefit of the 3-pointer. The bonus shot was added in 1979 — midway through Abdul-Jabbar’s tenure.
James made 2,237 3-pointers to reach the record. Abdul-Jabbar made one.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
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