Schedule needs new balance

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

Call it the North Beasts Division. Going into games last night, all five of the teams in the NHL's Northeast Division were positioned for post-season berths.

Two teams from the Atlantic Division would make it and just one, the surprising Carolina Hurricanes, would qualify for the playoffs from the Southeast Division.

Don't look for that to last. The teams from the Northeast Division are going to be knocking each other's brains out in the new rivalry weighted schedule and some are going to fall by the wayside.

A team like Carolina will fatten itself up on the weaker sisters in its division.

The Detroit Red Wings -- tops in the NHL so far -- get to play the 13th, 14th and 15th place teams in the Western Conference a total of 24 times this season in the Central Division. You might as well concede the Red Wings home-ice advantage for as long as they last in the playoffs right now.

Now, if the playoffs were based on divisional play (remember first vs. fourth and second vs. third in, say, the Adams Division?), there wouldn't be a problem.

Thing is, division standings aren't used for playoff seedings except for the division winners, which automatically get the 1-2-3 seeds in the conference.

So why should play in your division go such a long ways to determining your playoff seeding in the conference?

It's starting to look like eight games against your divisional rivals is too much.

If you are being seeded relative to the other teams in your conference, shouldn't there be more conference play?

Instead of eight games against division rivals, why not make it six and spread those other eight games among the other Eastern Conference teams?

It makes for a more balanced level of competition and helps mitigate the cyclical nature of division strength.

Just a thought.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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