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Instant Analysis: NHL Realignment

Monday, 12.5.2011 / 11:14 PM CT / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Instant Analysis: NHL Realignment
What Could Have Been
Sports are all about hypotheticals (hey, it is fun to wonder "what if"), so how would the Preds playoff fortunes had changed if the proposed realignment been in place the past handful of seasons?

Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas are currently the top-four teams in the Western Conference this season – with St. Louis edged out by a tie-breaker with Dallas and Nashville just three points behind the pace. So there looks to be a lot of top-end talent in this proposed group. But historically the Preds would have placed second among the proposed grouping last season (and hosted a “revenge series” against Chicago), third in 2010 (and a series against Detroit instead of the classic match-up against eventual Cup Champion Chicago), still would have finished just on the outside of the playoffs in 2009 (when they missed the playoffs on the final weekend of action), fourth in ’08 (and a match-up against Detroit – same match-up that did in fact occur), second in ’07 (and a match-up against Dallas instead of the rematch series against San Jose), third in ’06 (with a match-up against Dallas instead of San Jose Part I) and fourth in ’04 (with a match-up against Detroit – again the same match-up that did take place).
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
If the new team alignments end up implemented as reported on NHL.com this evening, this realignment worked out pretty well for the Nashville Predators. (Keep in mind this proposal as approved by the Board of Governors tonight, still needs to be approved by the NHLPA, so it is not final, final yet.)

Nashville remains in a grouping with all four of its traditional Central Division rivals. The Preds already have playoff history with Chicago and Detroit; a chance to maintain that and expand upon it in the new group-emphasized playoff format. Regional rivals St. Louis and Columbus also remain in the grouping with the Preds. Preds fans routinely travel up to Columbus and St. Louis for games and vice-versa; maintaining that familiarity is good for hockey in Nashville.

New to the group next year will be Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Dallas and Minnesota have been philosophically similar to the Preds over the past few years. Winnipeg is a bit of a wild card. The organization is in its first year in Winnipeg with new ownership; it is too early to see how they will proceed with their spending patterns, organizational philosophy, organizational development plan. But all three “newcomers” joining the current Central Division foes are located in the Central Time Zone. As a result the travel burden will be greatly reduced on the Preds next season – only one trip to California, only one trip to Western Canada, additional road trips to the more travel friendly Eastern Time Zone, more emphasis on games within the Central Time Zone.

Click here for David Poile's take on the realignment.
SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 50 25 18 7 111 115 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36