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Blackhawks

A Glance At NHL’s Realignment Plan

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sami Lepisto (20) and goalie Corey Crawford (50) watch for the puck during a Detroit Red Wings powerplay in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sami Lepisto (20) and goalie Corey Crawford (50) watch for the puck during a Detroit Red Wings powerplay in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

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(CBS) The NHL approved a radical realignment plan Monday that will have a wide sweeping impact on both the regular season and playoffs.

The league will now have four conferences instead of six divisions. Each conference will have seven teams, with the top four teams from each conference making the playoffs. The first two rounds of the playoffs will consist of solely intraconference matchups, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed. After the first two rounds, the four conference champions will move onto the NHL semifinals and then, of course, theĀ  final two teams will square off in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The drawback of this realignment plan is that teams from the same conference can’t meet in the semifinals. The Blackhawks and Red Wings are in the same conference, meaning they can’t meet in what was previously known as the Western Conference Finals.

The plan also calls for teams to play five or six games a year against teams in their own conference and a home-and-home series against all non-conference teams.

The conferences do not have names yet, but this is how they shape up:

Conference A

Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals

Conference B

Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Blue Jays

Conference C

Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

Conference D

Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
Phoenix Coyotes
San Jose Sharks

While the plan has been approved by the league, it has not been officially implemented yet. The NHLPA is reportedly showing some resistance.

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