NHL Realignment: Capitals Move Into Conference With Penguins, Flyers Among Others

The NHL has realigned according to many reports and the Washington Capitals will be in a conference with the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

The NHL will move to a four-conference format as the board of governors has approved a realignment plan Monday, according to various reports. The league has confirmed the radical changes.

With the move, the two-conference, six-division set-up will cease to exist, meaning that the Washington Capitals will no longer be a part of the Southeast Division. Instead, Washington will be grouped with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes.

The other conferences will reportedly look like this:

Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers

Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars

Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes

According to the NHL, the regular season schedule will look like this:

The teams in the seven-team conferences will play 36 inter-conference games -- six games against every other team. The teams in the eight-team conferences will play 38 inter-conference games -- at least five games against every other team, but as many as six against three different opponents. The remaining games will be home-and home series against each opponent from the other three conferences.

The playoff format will change as well:

 The first two rounds will be played within the conference, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team playing the third-place team in the first round. The winners will face each other in the second round.
 
Once the playoffs are down to one team from each conference, the NHL will re-seed based on the regular-season records of the four finalists. No. 1 will play No. 4 in one semifinal and No. 2 will play No. 3 in the other. The winners of those two series will face each other in the Stanley Cup Final.

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