A realignment of the NHL has been adopted and as a result, the Capitals will be grouped with their old Patrick Division rivals and the Southeast Division will go into the dustbin of history. The league will be split into 4 conferences (not divisions?) and the Caps will be in “CONFERENCE D” which will be renamed. Ideally, it would be the Patrick Conference, but that would make too much sense in Gary Bettman’s NHL. Still, there is much to rejoice about, namely the end of the Southeast division. Here is how the new setup looks:
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
This makes so much more sense than the current southeast division. Northeast corridor cities D.C., New York and Philadelphia are rivals in and out of sports and have been for centuries. Nothing was going to make Washingtonians feel that Tampa Bay, South Florida and Atlanta ( the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg which started this process) were peer cities. Raleigh, where the Hurricanes play, isn’t either, but at least it is close and not too far off of I-95.
Here is how the playoffs are going to work:
As a result of the new four-conference alignment, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will follow a different format as well.
The top four teams in each Conference will qualify for the playoffs. The first-place team in each conference would play the fourth-place team in the same conference; the second-place team would play the third-place team.
The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.
While this realignment will probably mean the Caps don’t finish first as often, the tougher schedule will force them to raise their game to be competitive.
By the way, the Caps ought to get back to winning and you know, goaltending one of these days:
At least they came back from 5-1 down, I guess. Hard to believe the Florida Panthers are in first place in the Southeast.