The following article is a Guest Post. From time to time fightingforstanley.ca will feature the work of other writers with the intention of providing a different perspective on the Canadian teams in the NHL. In this instance, the following article is from Roy Larking and it takes a look at the recent NHL Conference Realignment.
Expansion and divisional realignment is not new to the National Hockey League as there have been ten changes to the leagues structure since the 1991-92 NHL season. Make it eleven as the 2013-14 NHL season brings one of the more controversial divisional realignments in recent years. While the Eastern and Western Conferences remain in place, the division names have changed. The Eastern Conference is now home to 16 teams spread over the Metropolitan and Atlantic divisions while the Western Conference has 14 teams playing in the Pacific and Central divisions. Fans of online betting the world over are wondering if the balance of power has shifted with the new unbalanced NHL divisional format.
NHL Eastern Conference: Less travel – more teams fighting for playoff spots
National Hockey League fans have long pointed to the Eastern Conference having an advantage over the Western Conference when it comes to team travel time. While the miles can’t be disputed – the overall affect can be questioned given that the Western Conference has won five of the last seven Stanley Cup Championships. For the most part, with Detroit and Columbus now residing in the east, the 2013-14 NHL realignment has brought the eastern teams even closer together. Teams in the east will travel almost 67,000 less miles than their counterparts in the west this season and seven of the 16 teams will log at least 1,000 less miles than they did in 2011-12 – the last full NHL season.
In the Metropolitan Division, the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers have both had their air miles slashed by over 6,000 while the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins will log approximately 4,500 and 3,600 additional miles respectively. Over in the Atlantic, the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers will both travel approximately 7,500 less road miles this season while the Boston Bruins journey will jumps by over 8,500 miles – the largest leap in the East. Ottawa (+900), Montreal (+150), Carolina (+750), and Philadelphia (+700) are the least affected teams in the Eastern Conference. The less travel time advantage is countered somewhat by the fact that 16 teams are fighting for eight playoff positions in the Eastern Conference.
NHL Western Conference: West road warriors still logging lots of air miles
When pitching the realignment plan, to anyone who would listen, the powers that be insisted that they wanted to balance the geographic map in the NHL. While it’s mission accomplished in the East, the Western Conference is still separated by a lot of land. From the Calgary and Edmonton up in Canada to the Los Angeles and Anaheim down in southern California, and over to Chicago and Nashville in the East, the map in the West is still sparsely dotted. One has to feel for the San Jose Sharks as they will travel over 57,000 miles during the 2013-14 NHL campaign. That number is 13,000 additional miles than the nearly 44,000 they logged back in 2011-12. This is largely due to the fact that every team must visit each of the 29 teams in the NHL at least once this season.
After the Sharks, there’s a considerable drop off in the miles teams will travel in the west as just Phoenix (+3,400) Winnipeg (+1,800), Vancouver (+1,650), and Minnesota (+1,400) have a significantly longer road to travel. On the other side of the coin, the Edmonton Oilers will travel almost 5,000 less miles while the Los Angeles Kings path to the Stanley Cup will be over 7,000 miles shorter this season. Playing out of the US Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Avalanche have seen their travel schedule change the least of any team as their variance is less than 100 miles. Even though they have a rougher travel schedule, we’re still be backing a Western Conference team to win the Stanley Cup when we visit one of the sportsbooks at the Online Sports Betting website.