Report: Caps, Penguins to be in the same division after all originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
With the border between the United States and Canada closed to all non-essential travel, we are going to see new divisions this year so all seven Canadian teams can play one another. This means reshuffling the American teams as well. On Wednesday, Pierre LeBrun reported the latest realignment outline for the league.
The division alignment would suggest teams would only play within the division, but this has not been formally announced.
A previous report had the Pittsburgh Penguins separated from the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers, but it appears sanity won out. For the NHL to split two major rivalries at a time when the league is desperate to generate interest and revenue would be foolish. There was no perfect realignment, but the NHL should not prioritize Columbus-Pittsburgh and Washington-Carolina over Washington-Pittsburgh and Philadelphia-Pittsburgh.
The next question is how will the playoffs look? There is a clear East and a clear West division, but the Canadian division will span across the continent and the central division includes teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences. It’s less obvious what two divisions would group together. If the NHL keeps its divisional playoff format, who will play whom in the conference finals?