2013-14 Brief Season Preview
By Andrew Fish Fain
It may seem like just yesterday that the Chicago Blackhawks had completed their improbable run to their 2nd Stanley Cup title in four years, but it was really almost 4 months ago. Since that time, a lot has changed in the NHL.
The biggest change for the upcoming season (other than them playing a full 82 game schedule this season) is the realignment of the conferences. The biggest switch being the Red Wings now move over to the Eastern Conference, thus for all intents and purposes ending one of the best rivalries in the sport, between the Blackhawks and the Wings.
Of course, geographically the switch makes sense. So what are the differences this year? So glad you asked. The league is going from a two-conference, three-division format, to a two-conference, two-division format. The Eastern Conference now consists of the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions, both with eight teams. The Western Conference now consists of the Central and Pacific Divisions, both with seven teams. Eight teams will make the playoffs from each conference, the top three in each division and two wild cards from either division.
The Metro Division now consists of: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, NY (soon to be Brooklyn) Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
The Atlantic Division has in it: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
The Central Division is: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St Louis and Winnipeg.
Finally the Pacific Division contains: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
So that’s a look at the teams in new places, what about some of the big names players who have found new homes? Ray Emery now finds himself between the pipes in Philadelphia, Daniel Alfredsson now skates in Detroit, Jarome Iginla leaves Calgary (via Pittsburgh) for Boston, Vincent LeCavalier will try to restart his career in Philly and finally Tim Thomas finds himself in Florida.
What does it all mean? Not a whole heck of a lot until we see what each of these teams can do on the ice. Going into the season, it is the usual suspects who are looking like the best Cup contenders, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Los Angeles are the odds on favorites. With the Rangers, Flyers, Blues and Ducks looking like they could have shot as well.
But it all starts for real on October 1st when the puck drops in Montreal (which only seems appropriate) for a battle between two of the Original Six the Maple Leafs and Canadiens.