The NHL’s Board of Governors and the NHLPA have both approved new divisions for the 2013-14 season, as well as a new scheduling and playoff formula. Calgary will be in a new Pacific Division with Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix, Edmonton and Vancouver. The top three teams in each division will now make the playoffs, along with the two remaining conference teams with the best records.
To make sense of how it’ll impact the Calgary Flames, we’ve put together a quick rundown organized by opposing team.
THE SCHEDULE MATRIX
Within Conference (Division): 29 games
[Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix, Edmonton and Vancouver]
* 5 games vs. five teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. two teams, 2 Home/3 Away vs. three teams) AND 4 games vs. one team (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 5 =25 games
* 1 X 4 = 4 games
Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games
[Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis]
* 3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs. three teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 3 X 7 = 21 games
Non-Conference: 32 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 16 = 32 games
EDMONTON & VANCOUVER
The Skinny: You will see them slightly less. The old scheduling system saw Calgary play their closest traditional rivals six times per year. The new system sees the Flames play them four or five times per year. The ‘Dome will get definitely one less seasonal visit from the Canucks and Oilers. This also means one less 8pm MT road game in Vancouver and one less 7pm road game in Edmonton.
ANAHEIM, LOS ANGELES, PHOENIX & SAN JOSE
The Skinny: Depending on the team and the divisional rotation, you will see them the same amount or slightly more. These former Pacific Division teams will join the Flames in the “new” Pacific Division. Under the old system, the Flames played them all four times per year. Under the new system, they’ll play them four or five times. Depending on which team gets the extra date per year, it’s either an extra 8pm MT road game or an extra home game.
COLORADO & MINNESOTA
The Skinny: These old Northwest Division rivals are now in the “Mid-West” Division, or whatever it’ll end up being called. The Flames used to play them six times each per year, but now they’ll play them each three times per year (the extra home game will float each year). No matter what, there will be at least one less 7pm MT road game in Colorado and one less 6pm MT road game in Minnesota.
CHICAGO, DALLAS, NASHVILLE & ST. LOUIS
The Skinny: In the olden days, the Flames played teams from the other division in the West four times apiece. Now? They’ll play them three times apiece, so they’ll lose either a home date or a road date against each. It’s not a huge loss and it’s slightly fewer 6pm MT road games.
COLUMBUS & DETROIT
The Skinny: Say goodbye to these teams, as they leave the Western Conference for the east. The Flames used to see them four times each, now it’ll be twice. That’s two fewer 6pm MT road games.
MONTREAL, OTTAWA & TORONTO
The Skinny: Under the old system, the Canadian teams in the East (except Winnipeg) were special and played each other twice a year. Under the new system, the Canadian teams in the East are just like everyone else and will still play Calgary twice a year.
The Skinny: Okay, I lied. Winnipeg is special. Under the old system, Winnipeg was an orphan, all alone and playing Calgary once per year. Now that’s fixed, and Winnipeg’s in the other division and will play Calgary three times a year. That guarantees a home visit from the Jets every year, and another 6pm MT road game (guaranteed), with the extra game rotating.
EVERYONE ELSE (BOSTON, BUFFALO, CAROLINA, FLORIDA, NEW JERSEY, NY ISLANDERS, NY RANGERS, PHLADELPHIA, PITTSBURGH, TAMPA BAY & WASHINGTON)
The Skinny: In the olden days, the Flames would play these Eastern time zone teams once a year. Where that game was depended on divisional rotation. Well, if you like any of these teams, you are in luck. Calgary will play everyone twice a season now – once in the east and once here. That means the team will get twice as many 5pm MT east-coast road games per year.
The good news is that Flames fans will see everybody once a year, including guaranteed visits from Winnipeg. The bad news is you’ll get slightly less Edmonton and Vancouver.
There will be a few more 5pm MT road games when the Flames play out east. There will be a guaranteed visit to Winnipeg, but that’s the only added 6pm MT road game (and those will be fewer due to less visits to Detroit and Columbus). There will be a handful more 8pm MT starts when the Flames visit their new divisional rivals, but they replace a visit to Vancouver and a visit to Edmonton.
On the whole, a handful of 7pm and 6pm road game starts will become 5pm starts (due to the east coast visits), while a couple 7pm starts will become 8pm starts (due to the new divisional rivals). Beyond that, the schedule doesn’t appreciably change too much.