NHL Realignment: How Will the St. Louis Blues Be Affected?
The talk of the National Hockey League this week has been the new realignment. If you still aren't clear on the new format, here we go.
Say goodbye to the two-conference, six-division system. Now, the NHL will feature four region-based conferences. Two conferences have eight teams and two have seven. The top four teams from each currently-nameless conference will be playoff teams. Seeds No. 1 and No. 4 will play and No. 2 and No. 3 will faceoff as well.
The top two teams will then play each other. The champion of each conference will then be just one series away from getting their chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup.
If you are unaware of the new conferences, you can check them out here.
Ultimately, the realignment isn't as radical as most have claimed. Most division rivalries remain intact, although the new conferences will serve better rivalries.
For the St. Louis Blues, the realignment is great.
In "Conference B," St. Louis will still see division rivals Detroit, Nashville, Chicago and Columbus multiple times during the season. The three additions to complete the conference are the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild.
Not only do the Blues look like a playoff team this season, the league has been pleasantly surprised by Winnipeg and Minnesota as well. Winnipeg has played well at their new home and are in the middle of the pack in the East. Minnesota has the most points in the league and are winning with their third and fourth goalies.
The addition of the Wild, Jets and Stars next season will be a great one for St. Louis. As the Blues' young squad progresses, matching up against similar teams like Winnipeg and Minnesota will be beneficial.
In recent history, the Blues have struggled against Dallas and are winless in two contests against them season, including a 4-0 loss early on.
Against Minnesota, St. Louis has played well. They have split the series against the Wild this season and each game has been decided by a goal.
The Blues don't play Winnipeg until February 25th.
Overall, if the Blues can continue their success for this year and beyond, they have a tough road ahead of them but it is one they can fight through. With the exception of Columbus, all of the teams that will be in Conference B could be playoff teams this season.
The realignment will challenge the St. Louis Blues more than almost any other team in the National Hockey League.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011 and will be a B/R intern starting in January. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.
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