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NHL Realignment: New and Rekindled Rivalries

Adam RickertAnalyst IIDecember 21, 2011

NHL Realignment: New and Rekindled Rivalries

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    Obviously, the radical, new NHL realignment will have major effects on the game. Travel and playoffs, for example, will be much different than they were in the past; every team will play a drastically different schedule in terms of matchups.

    The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played exclusively within each division, and teams will play their division opponents three to four more times than the teams outside of their division.

    With new combinations of teams in each conference, some rivalries will be lost (article coming soon), but the new schedule and playoff setups will create new rivalries almost immediately.

Canucks-Kings

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    These teams have a historic rivalry. Vancouver opened its 40th NHL season last year against the team that it played its first-ever game against: Los Angeles.

    It has always been considered some sort of rivalry due to the historical significance that has been marketed by the Canucks, but has never garnered a lot of attention due to the fact that they have been in different divisions.

    Next year should provide some interesting matchups between these two franchises.

Canucks-Sharks

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    These are two of the top teams in the Western Conference and should provide for some excellent matchups.

    The playoff series that they engaged in last year was short but exciting, and they also battled in a regular-season contest that some dubbed the "game of the year."

Oilers-Kings

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    The realignment will refuel the old rivalry that resulted from the Wayne Gretzky trade.

    These two teams with bright futures will grow into bitter division rivals in the coming years.

Blackhawks-Wild

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    The Blackhawks-North Stars rivalry, in the days of the Norris Division, was one of the greatest in hockey.

    Moving Minnesota into the same division as Chicago should create a rivalry that all hockey fans would like to see, especially since they are from two of the best hockey cities in the States.

Blues-Wild

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    St. Louis was another great rival of the North Stars in the Norris Division.

    The Blues and Wild are already considered rivals by some fans, as their games always seem to have some type of extra excitement.

Red Wings-Wild

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    Hockeytown vs. The State of Hockey. When it comes to American fanbases, what else can you ask for?

    We may see a Winter Classic between these two in the near future.

Stars-Wild

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    The Minnesota North Stars moved south to Dallas in 1993, but fans only had a few years without a hockey team, as the Wild were formed in 2000.

    It will be interesting to see how fans in Minnesota react to the new rivalry that will be established between their relocated former team and their new team.

Red Wings-Stars

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    I have no idea why, but as a Red Wing fan, I am looking forward to this matchup more than almost any other new rivalry.

    I have always enjoyed games between the Wings and Stars, and they have provided for two great Western Conference Finals in 1998 and 2008.

    The Stars' Michigan connection of past years formed somewhat of a rivalry, but these games should mean more now since Detroit and Dallas will be in the same division.

Blackhawks-Jets

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    The focus of this rivalry will be a handful of players who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 and then packed their bags to Atlanta a month later.

    Now that the Thrashers have moved North, these players will be battling their former teammates five to six times a year.

Capitals-Penguins

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    The NHL's favorite rivalry has been taken to a new level, as Pittsburgh and Washington are now in the same division.

    If Sidney Crosby is healthy again, and the Capitals find a way to start winning again, this will continue to be one of the most built-up rivalries in hockey.

Penguins-Hurricanes

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    These teams are currently on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to wins, but it will be interesting to see Jordan and Eric Staal in the same division.

Rangers-Hurricanes

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    This rivalry should be very interesting to watch.

    It has more significance than any other matchup between Staal brothers since Eric knocked out his brother, Marc, with a hit that resulted in the end of Marc's season.

    Marc has yet to return to the Rangers' lineup due to concussion-like symptoms.

Devils-Hurricanes

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    It seems like every time Carolina makes the playoffs, they have to face the Devils.

    Every one of these series has been exciting, especially the seven-game battle that took place in 2009 that was one of the greatest series I have ever watched.

Capitals-Islanders

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    These two collided for some of the most historic playoff series and moments in the 1980s and early 1990s, including the infamous brawl sparked by Washington's current head coach, Dale Hunter, in 1993 and the historic four-overtime "Easter Epic."

    However, this rivalry will not have the luster it used to until the Islanders crawl out of last place.

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