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March 22, 2013

NHL realignment is great, if you're in the Western Conference

At first glance the new NHL realignment, which was passed last week and will take effect next season, sounds great for the game. I mean who doesn’t love division rivalries and the prospect of the Bruins playing the Canadiens in the playoffs every season?

But upon closer look there are plenty of flaws in the new system, and it’s apparent that the NHL is attempting to fix something that isn’t broken.

Here’s how the realignment stacks up.

Starting in the 2013-2014 season there will be two eight team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven team divisions in the Western Conference. Come playoff time the top three teams in each division qualify and the two teams with the next highest amount of points will get the wild card spots, regardless of the division they play in.

The realignment will also see teams play a home-and-home series with every team in the opposite conference meaning the Bruins will play each Western Conference team at TD Garden and will travel to each Western Conference arena once a season.

The Divisions will look something like this: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto will reside in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington will make up the Eastern Conference’s other division, the Atlantic Division.

In the West Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver make up the Pacific Division while Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg make up the Midwest Division.

There are a few shifts as Detroit and Columbus move to the East and Winnipeg moves to the West.

This new system will certainly boost inter-divisional rivalries and it will be very interesting seeing how the Detroit Red Wings fair in the Central Division alongside the Bruins. Seeing the same teams in the playoffs every year will also make the competition more intense.

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