The NHL Board of Governors has approved realignment into 4 "Conferences' effective next season.
* New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina
* Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay
* Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg
* Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado
From an Islander perspective, the effects are as follows:
Maintains the same 24 games as in recent seasons against the Flyers, Penguins, Devils and Rangers. Adds two games (for a total of 6) against Washington and against Carolina, meaning an extra Ovechkin (and Dale Hunter) and Kirk Muller visit. (36 conference games total)
Play 2 games a season against the 23 teams not in their Conference. (46 non-conference games total)
The effects are obviously greatest for the "eastern-most" team currently in the Western Conference, as the Red Wings and Blue Jackets will now play the same 8 road games in either the Mountain and Pacific time zones as the Islanders and Rangers will. Currently, the Isles and Rangers can play as few as 4 of these, while the Red Wings and Blue Jackets play 16 of them.
The playoff format has also been scrambled, as the playoffs will now be done by Conference, similar to the old Patrick Division days. The top 4 teams in each Conference will make the playoffs, which does represent some equity issues as it is 4 out of 7 in two conferences and 4 out of 8 in the other two. The 4 teams in each conference will play down to 1, with the four survivors advancing to the Stanley Cup Semi-finals.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick