The new look of the NHL is based on geographic location taking into account the time zones teams are based on. The league is divided into two conferences, East and West, with two divisions per conference. New divisions as follows:
- Division A – Pacific
- Division B – Central
- Division C – Atlantic
- Division D – Metropolitan
Could they have been less imaginative? With the NHL’s new look, they could have chosen division names to honor hockey greats, events, or milestones of the past.
The new look of the NHL is based on geographic location taking into account the time zones teams are based on. The league is divided into two conferences, East and West, with two divisions per conference. The West has 14 teams with 7 teams per division. The Pacific Division teams are the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, LA Kings, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks. The Central Division is comprised of the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets. Western teams will play 29 games within their own division, 21 games against the other division, and a home and home series against each of the 16 Eastern Conference teams (32 games) for a total of 82 games.
The eastern conference has 16 teams, 8 teams per division. The Atlantic Division includes the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabers, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Metropolitan Division has the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. They will play 30 games within their own division, 24 games against the other division, and 28 games (1 home and 1 away per team) against Western opponents.
The top three teams in each division will make the playoffs. The next two highest-ranked finalists in each conference will fill four wild-card spots, based on regular season points and regardless of division. It will be possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
First round – The 1st place team with the highest total points of the season will play the wild card team with the lowest total points and the other 1st place team will play the other wild card team. The second and third teams in each division will play each other.
Second round – This is where it could get a bit tricky. The winners of the first round face each other within their own division for the division championship. The problem is that it is possible that 3 winners are from the same division.
Third round – Division winners play for the conference championship. Again, these two teams could be from the same division.
Fourth round – Conference champions play for the Stanley Cup.
The new look of the NHL is not set in stone. The playoff format is on a three-year trial period after which it will be reevaluated.
My playoff idea – The 16 teams that make the playoffs are placed in the same group and ranked according to their total points from the regular season. The ties decided in the same way as in the past. In each round, the highest seed plays the lowest, the second seed the second lowest, and so on. The possible downside, of course, could be that the last two teams standing are from the same conference. This has the potential to cause disinterest among fans of the other conference.