It's hard to imagine anyone in the Capitals organization -- let alone any of their fans -- not liking the realignment that was approved by the NHL Board of Governors Monday night.
Who wouldn't love to see the Penguins and Flyers twice more every season?
Who wouldn't love to see the Caps face the Penguins and Rangers in back-to-back playoff series?
Who wouldn't love to see the Caps face the Canadiens or Bruins or Maple Leafs in a Stanley Cup Final?
It all could happen as soon as next season. The NHL Board of Governors approved Monday night a realignment that will move the Capitals into a division with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Hurricanes that no doubt will bring back memories of the Patrick Division wars that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.
The only thing needed to ratify the changes is an approving vote by the NHL Players' Association.
Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference twice -- once home, once away.
In the seven-team Conferences, teams would play six times -- three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the
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.