The release of the 2013-14 regular-season schedule Friday included the debut of the four new division names for the re-aligned National Hockey League.
The League went to a re-aligned format for geographic purposes and has decided to stick with geographic names for the four new divisions. Three of the four names are carryovers from the old six-division alignment, but the League added a new name to the mix.
The four division names are Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific. The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions make up the Eastern Conference and each disvision has eight teams. The Central and Pacific divisions make up the Western Conference and have seven teams in each division.
The Atlantic Division teams are: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings have moved from the Western Conference to the East.
The Metropolitan Division teams include the three New York-area teams, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils; along with the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, who are joining the Red Wings in the move east.
The new Central Division in the Western Conference features Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, who are moving from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.
The new Pacific Division in the Western Conference includes Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The 2013-14 schedule ensures that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once during the season.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight from each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added.
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference -- regardless of division -- based on regular-season points. It will be possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined by regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the conference championship series.
The winners of the conference championships advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer
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