more rivalries will be created, which is awesome. the bad thing about divisional playoffs is that many teams will never, ever, ever see the postseason and good teams in strong conferences won't make it while okay teams in bad conferences will.
Theoretical playoffs if they started this year with the standings as they are:
Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
Vancouver vs SJ
LA vs Phoenix
Vancouver vs Phoenix
Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Columbus, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota
Minnesota vs Detroit
Chicago vs Dallas
Detroit vs Chicago
Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Toronto
Boston vs Buffalo
Florida vs Toronto
Boston vs Toronto
Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers
Philly vs Washington
Pittsburgh vs New York
Philly vs Pittsburgh
Reseed Final Four based on playoff record, lets say...
Vancouver vs Boston
Detroit vs Pittsburgh
Cool thing about the re-seeding is that soon-to-be-defunct East/West teams would play against eachother in the "conference" final making the CF or even SCF potentially east/east or west/west. Although you wouldn't be able to play someone from your own conference, which would make for some kickass rivalry, it would be just fantastic to see some all-west finals - Detroit vs Vancouver, or some original 6 matchups - NYR vs Toronto or Boston vs MTL. I really like this, except you can even see at this point the disparity in conferences: washington fucking blows right now yet would make it to the playoffs simply on the basis that carolina, NYI and NJ are abysmally bad while teams in bigger, stronger conferences get the boot.
Only other issue are the perennial playoff contenders. I have a feeling we will see this very very often:
Conference A: Vancouver, SJ, LA and one of Edmonton/Ducks/PHX. Edmonton is on the rise, Vancouver's good, SJ is good, PHX + LA are always solid, Ducks can make a return to form... damn Flames are going to be out of the post for a long long long long long time.
Conference B: Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and one of Min/Nashville/St Louis; CBJ and the Jets are shit outta luck here unless Dallas shits the bed bigtime in the next few years.
Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Toronto, one of Tampa/MTL. A little more parity here, only 7 teams so not as many teams getting left in the cold. Can't see FLA keeping it up with a hodgepodge of UFA's signings and ancient goaltending, but the parity is mostly there from Toronto down. Even Buffalo isn't really a lock and Ottawa has awhile to go.
Conference D: Philly, Pittsburgh, NYR, Washington. This is a pretty brutal conference if the NYR turn out to be for real and Washington unfucks itself. Carolina is nothing special outside of Staal/Skinner/Ward, NYI sucks and NJ is painfully mediocre with Brodeur losing form and the Kovie signing.
I know shit happens from year to year, see: Anaheim but I can't see there being much of a difference in 3 of the 4 possible playoff teams from each conference. Only conference where there is a lot of parity is conference C with recent ECF finalists Tampa and MTL in with a surprisingly strong rebuilding team in Ottawa and who knows what the fuck with Florida and Toronto. Only guaranteed place in my mind is Boston and this year Buffalo. A, B, and D are going to see at least 3 of those teams repeat year after year after year; especially now with the new format there won't be any last-day playoff seeding shenanigans. Due to the structure, playoff seeding will be determined weeks in advance since disparity in the division is going to be really evident.
Edited by jarude - 12/6/11 at 8:36am