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Realignment Approved for Next Season

by Staff Writer / St. Louis Blues
NEW YORK - The National Hockey League's Board of Governors has approved realignment and a division-based format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, effective for the 2013-14 season. The realignment plan creates two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The names of the divisions will be formalized at a later date.


The new alignment will place several clubs in more geographically appropriate groupings and will intensify already-fierce rivalries throughout the League. The new scheduling matrix will ensure that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once a season for the first time since 1997-98.

Western Conference
Eastern Conference
Division A Division B
Division C
Division D
Anaheim Ducks Chicago Blackhawks Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
Calgary Flames Colorado Avalanche Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets
Edmonton Oilers Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils
Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild Florida Panthers New York Islanders
Phoenix Coyotes Nashville Predators Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers
San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins
    Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals

NEW REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE MATRIX

Western Conference (7-Team Divisions)

Within Conference (Division): 29 games
* 5 games vs. five teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. two teams, 2 Home/3 Away vs. three teams) AND 4 games vs. one team (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 5 =25 games
* 1 X 4 = 4 games

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.
* 3 X 7 = 21 games

Non-Conference: 32 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 16 = 32 games

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

Eastern Conference (8-Team Divisions)

Within Conference (Division): 30 games
* 5 games vs. two teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. one team, 2 Home/3 Away vs. one team) AND 4 games vs. five teams (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 2 =10 games
* 4 X 5 = 20 games

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.
* 3 X 8 = 24 games

Non-Conference: 28 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 14 = 28 games


NEW STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF FORMAT

Playoff qualification will be primarily Division-based, with the top three finishers in each Division qualifying for the first 12 spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and 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 on a "Divisional Basis" as follows:

* #1 vs. #4 / #2 vs. #3 -- winners play each other for Division Championship
* Conference Finals -- Division A Champion vs. Division B Champion and Division C Champion vs. Division D Champion.
* Eastern and Western Conference Champions will meet in Stanley Cup Final.
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