Monday, December 05, 2011

NHL Gets Approval For Re-Alignment
Good-bye two conferences, eight divisions. Hello four conferences. The NHL Board of Governors approved a new look alignment for the league next year.

What does that mean for the Capitals?

How about a conference that features the Capitals with the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers and Islanders, the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes? Is that more to your liking?

Most Caps' fans will see this as the return of the old Patrick Division (minus the Hurricanes, of course, who were the Hartford Whalers at the time). Per Dan Rosen at
The four conferences are designed to alleviate geographic concerns among several current Western Conference teams that had been unhappy about their extensive travel through one, two, and sometimes even three time zones. Some of those teams argued that the late start of road games in the Pacific time zone were affecting fan interest, especially among younger fans.
While in many ways this would be a dream come true for the Capitals who have argued that they were stripped of some really good rivalries with the Flyers, Rangers and Penguins when they were stashed in the then very weak Southeast Division. Division foes with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers seemed to weaken interest in Caps' fans when the move was first made. Since then, some good rivalries have come into place, especially with the Lightning and Caps of late.

The overall structure still makes some radical lines drawn mostly in the eastern side of things. While the travel will be confined and easy for those in Conference D (Caps, Pens, Rags, Flyers, Isles and 'Canes), Conference C stretches over and around the later and includes the Leafs, Habs, Sabres, Bruins, Panthers and Lightning.

Again, the West gets the shaft as their Conferences contain 8 teams per instead of the Eastern side that only has 7 per Conf. As far as playoffs are concerned:
The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.
 Almost a blueprint from taken from the Final Four's Elite 8 to give a comparison.

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