It's official: Caps joining Pens, Flyers, Rangers

It's official: Caps joining Pens, Flyers, Rangers
March 14, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Alan May reacts to the NHL's new look for 2013-2014

It’s official. Beginning next season the Capitals will be seeing a whole lot more of Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux and Henrik Lundqvist.

As expected, the NHL Board of Governors approved today a realignment plan that drastically alters the look of the NHL.

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As a result the Capitals will play in a division with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings are moving from the Western Conference to the East, while the Winnipeg Jets are moving from the East to the West.

“They do those graphs when the playoffs start and how much teams travel and it’s almost ridiculous how much some teams travel way more than others,” said Capitals left wing Jason Chimera, who played parts of five seasons in Columbus.

“The league is so strong now, every game is such a big game and you want to have that competitive balance. And you don’t want to have one team have an advantage just because of travel.”

Most of the Capitals, including captain Alex Ovechkin, said they are excited about renewing rivalries with the Penguins, Flyers and Rangers, but they also expressed some concerns about how difficult it will be getting into the playoffs with eight spots going to 16 teams in the East and eight spots going to 14 teams in the West.

 “You get a lot more division games, you get the rivals against New York and Philly and those kinds of things, which will be good,” Chimera said. “But I was on par with what we were doing. I thought it was pretty good what we had.”

The new alignment will assure that all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas next season.

Here’s a quick look at how the yet-to-be-named divisions will look, followed by an explanation of scheduling and playoff format:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

DIVISION A

Washington Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins

Philadelphia Flyers

New York Rangers

New York Islanders

New Jersey Devils

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

DIVISION B

Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabres

Detroit Red Wings

Montreal Canadiens

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ottawa Senators

Florida Panthers

TampaBay Lightning

WESTERN CONFERENCE

DIVISION C

Chicago Blackhawks

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild

Nashville Predators

St. Louis Blues

Winnipeg Jets

DIVISION D

Anaheim Ducks

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

Los Angeles Kings

Phoenix Coyotes

San Jose Sharks

Vancouver Canucks

The Eastern Conference scheduling matrix goes like this:

Within Conference [Division]: 30 games

5 games vs. two teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. one team, 2 Home/3 Away vs. one
team)

4 games vs. five teams (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly
basis.

Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games

3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs.
four teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.

Non-Conference: 28 games

2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)

The Western Conference matrix goes like this:

Within Conference (Division): 29 games

5 games vs. five teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. two teams, 2 Home/3 Away vs.
three teams)

4 games vs. one team (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a
yearly basis.

Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games

3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs.
three teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.

Non-Conference: 32 games
2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)

(Exception: one team from each division plays one less game inside Division
and one more game inside Conference outside Division)

As for the new playoff format, it goes like this:

The top three finishers in each Division qualifies for the first 12 spots and are given the first three seeds in each Division.

The two additional playoff spots in each Conference, designated as
"Wild Cards," will be awarded to the next two highest-placed finishers in
each Conference, ranked on the basis of regular-season points and
regardless of Division.

"Seeding" of the Wild Card teams within each Divisional Playoff will
be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The first-place
finisher with the highest number of regular-season points in the Conference
will be matched against the Wild Card team with the lowest number of
regular-season points, and the first-place finisher with the second-highest
number of regular-season points in the Conference matched against the Wild
Card team with the second-lowest number of regular-season points.

The Playoffs will proceed as follows:

#1 vs. #4 / #2 vs. #3 -- winners play each other for berth in Conference
Championship
Conference Finals: Two advancing teams in the West and two advancing
teams in the East meet in Conference Championship
Eastern and Western Conference Champions will meet in Stanley Cup Final.

The National Hockey League Players' Association has given its consent
to play under this new Alignment and Playoff System for a minimum of three
seasons, through the 2015-16 NHL season.