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Instant Analysis: NHL Realignment

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
What Could Have Been

Sports are all about hypotheticals (hey, it is fun to wonder "what if"), so how would the Preds playoff fortunes had changed if the proposed realignment been in place the past handful of seasons?

Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas are currently the top-four teams in the Western Conference this season – with St. Louis edged out by a tie-breaker with Dallas and Nashville just three points behind the pace. So there looks to be a lot of top-end talent in this proposed group. But historically the Preds would have placed second among the proposed grouping last season (and hosted a “revenge series” against Chicago), third in 2010 (and a series against Detroit instead of the classic match-up against eventual Cup Champion Chicago), still would have finished just on the outside of the playoffs in 2009 (when they missed the playoffs on the final weekend of action), fourth in ’08 (and a match-up against Detroit – same match-up that did in fact occur), second in ’07 (and a match-up against Dallas instead of the rematch series against San Jose), third in ’06 (with a match-up against Dallas instead of San Jose Part I) and fourth in ’04 (with a match-up against Detroit – again the same match-up that did take place).
--Jay Levin,
If the new team alignments end up implemented as reported on this evening, this realignment worked out pretty well for the Nashville Predators. (Keep in mind this proposal as approved by the Board of Governors tonight, still needs to be approved by the NHLPA, so it is not final, final yet.)

Nashville remains in a grouping with all four of its traditional Central Division rivals. The Preds already have playoff history with Chicago and Detroit; a chance to maintain that and expand upon it in the new group-emphasized playoff format. Regional rivals St. Louis and Columbus also remain in the grouping with the Preds. Preds fans routinely travel up to Columbus and St. Louis for games and vice-versa; maintaining that familiarity is good for hockey in Nashville.

New to the group next year will be Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Dallas and Minnesota have been philosophically similar to the Preds over the past few years. Winnipeg is a bit of a wild card. The organization is in its first year in Winnipeg with new ownership; it is too early to see how they will proceed with their spending patterns, organizational philosophy, organizational development plan. But all three “newcomers” joining the current Central Division foes are located in the Central Time Zone. As a result the travel burden will be greatly reduced on the Preds next season – only one trip to California, only one trip to Western Canada, additional road trips to the more travel friendly Eastern Time Zone, more emphasis on games within the Central Time Zone.

Click here for David Poile's take on the realignment.
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