Other than a move to the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Red Wings could not be happier about the NHL realignment set to occur next season. The switch to four divisions and change in playoff format will greatly reduce the travel throughout the year and allow the Wings to play every team at least once both home and away.
The Central Division will include current rivals Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as Minnesota, Dallas, and Winnepeg. The Wings will face these teams either five or six times each season, and will only have to travel to the West Coast for eight games. In addition, the first two rounds of the playoffs will be against teams within the division.
The players’ positive reaction to the change included many references to the fact that this may encourage Captain Nicklas Lidstrom to sign for one more year. If he continues to play at the high level that he has so far this season, the new alignment would be another attractive incentive to delay his retirement.
In other locker room news, there has been a push by the players, media, and fans to vote Jimmy Howard into the All-Star Game. In what is considered by most a significant snub, Howard is not even listed on the ballot, therefore the campaign to write him in is gaining steam.
On the ice, the Wings will look to avoid their recent poor penalty kill and mistake laden play and get back to winning hockey against Phoenix at home on Thursday.
DS360 Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Nicklas Lidstrom