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Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post Alignment Changes- What Does it All Mean?

December 6th, 2011, 9:14 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

The biggest news of the season so far is the announcement of a complete overhaul of the NHL alignment, going from six 4-team divisions and two conferences into four conferences, two with 7 teams, two with 8.  The idea would be to make the travel a bit more equitable (see this Puck Daddy post for all the gritty details).  But with most things, you can’t make anything completely equal- the 8-team conferences, of which the Sharks will be a part, will have one more team to contend with to make the postseason.  Each conference will do a 4-team mini-playoff, with the winner of each conference heading to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.

It’s a radically different scheme than today.  Most people (myself included) are somewhat leery and afraid of change, so my initial reaction was, “that’s crazy, and therefore bad!”.  But after thinking about it for only a short while, I’m getting used to the idea, and I kind of like it.  Here are my pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Visibility.  The biggest pro of the new scheme is we will see every NHL team in San Jose every year.  For instance, this year we won’t see the Rangers, Flyers (Pronger BOOOOO), or Maple Leafs in our barn. Not being able to crack  jokes in person at Joffrey Lupul’s expense just hurts me a little bit inside.
  • Travel. More games against fewer teams that are closer mean fewer time changes.  Playing Nashville or Detroit in the first round of the playoffs really sucks from a travel standpoint, and under the new alignment, this would never happen.
  • Playoff potential. The Final Four thing is just cool (new and improved Frozen Four, anyone?).   Right now the Stanley Cup Semifinals are just another step on a long journey to the Cup; if I were the league, I’d really play up this angle.
Cons:
  • Rivalries. It will be hard to maintain the same bad blood with the Wings or Chicago if we only face them twice a year, and never in the playoffs until the 3rd round.
  • OD’ing on a few teams.  When you play a terrible team six times, the games can often be snoozers.  With the larger conferences, the chances of two or even three teams being bad is much higher.

I will leave you with a chart I made indicating how the number of matchups will change.  I used this year’s schedule, and assumed, for simplicity’s sake, that the three teams we will play 6 times next year are the Ducks, Coyotes, and Kings.

Pie charts suck, you get your bar chart and like it

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    11 Comments to “Alignment Changes- What Does it All Mean?”

    1. hateseed says:

      Nice post – though authored by my retarded cousin Otto, I still think regardless of how the schedule is set up (could even be the same as this proposal) that the playoffs should just be the best 16 teams seeded. This uneven conference playoff scenario is just horseshit.

    2. Ruben says:

      Yeah, the repetitiveness is going to create staleness in the first couple of rounds in the playoffs. Maybe reseed/non-conference after the first round would have been better?

      And probably best to have the top 2 or 3 seeds in each division make the playoffs, and then the rest with the best records. Thhen again, with such heavy conference play, teams with a couple of crappy teams in their conference are going to have their ponts inflated anyways…

      • hateseed says:

        well, this is essentially pandering to the teams that already got pandered to after all. The only diff is Detroit got their piece of the pie.

    3. Tom says:

      Last night sucked, plain and simple… And it’s not going to get any easier this week. Dallas and especially St. Loius, both play hard and will expose, or continue to expose, the mistakes and lack of details with this team.

      I’ll be the first to say it and I’m well aware weve gone done this road many times… However, Ive lost any faith in this coaching staff. Not just Tmac, but all of them. Our PK is abysmal. We’re DEAD LAST in hits in the NHL. It seems the Sharks only game is to just generate 40+ SOG a night.

      I know how this conversation goes… Yes there isn’t anybody out there that’s probably any better that what we got. I just can’t stand watching this team doing the same thing over and over and the coaches having no answer for their struggles.

      • Ruben says:

        Obviously, I have no coaching experience of any kind, but it really seems the coaching staff is overreacting to everything. The line changes, in particular, are irritating. Who cares if Jumbo-Patty-Pavs have been outscored the past 3-4 games? Winchester on the top line? Breaking up your best performing line recently (the 3rd line) and putting your most effective player by scoring chances created/against (Torrey Mitchell) on the 4th line? What, so you can save him for the PK, where he has been absolutely terrible?

        Same with the D-pairings. Dan Boyle is playing awful, and he is still getting 24-26 minutes a night? Breaking up picklesnake?

        The weird thing is, TMac seems like such an even keeled coach, but his tactical decisions seem like he is throwing darts. I like TMac as a coach, but I think he is hurting more than helping with his quick trigger.

        The PK, really, is the only thing that really worries me long term about the team. The team can score, they can play strong D, they have the goaltending, they are sometimes unstoppable on the PP. But the PK has been bad for a while now, and with players that have a track record of being good PKers. I don’t know who handles the PK, but he is getting pwned.

        • shrk2th says:

          I think what Coach McLellan is trying to do is wake Marleau up by sending a message. Now I love Marleau, but he isn’t good at doing the whole Holmstrom thing in getting in the vision of the goalie. Even in practice, Winchester showed more commitment at parking in front of the crease. Marleau, not so much.

      • Patrick says:

        I wouldn’t mind seeing Randy Carlyle behind the bench.

        I’m not calling for that now. It’s still early and there were enough big roster changes in the offseason that I’d like to see this staff given a chance to work through the slump. But if we’re still talking about this a month from now, I’ll be ready to jump ship on TMac.

        • Ruben says:

          I’m not sure this team is built for Randy Carlyle. The biggest pugilist on the team is, what, Jamie McGinn? The team, as Tom pointed out, doesn’t hit people. We are last in the league in penalties.

          And, well, I like TMac overall. I mean, the guy has made it to the WCF two years in a row, and lost to what was likely the most talented team in the league each time. His system (lots of shots, crash the net, hope for rebounds) is prone to reliance on the hockey gods, but it is hard to argue it is not effective in both the regular season and playoffs (unless success in the postseason only means a SC win, in which case there is only one good coach a year). He is obviously a talented PP strategist, and appears to engender a large amount of respect from his players. Ron Wilson he is not.

          But, like all coaches, he has a couple of bad traits, one being an unwillingness to let his lines battle through slumps together. I don’t buy that the Sharks are any less focused or determined than any other team, both the Bruins and Red Wings have gone through slumps too this year. But I wish he was a little more forward thinking with his decisions. Letting Joe, Pavs, and Patty battle through this slump together would pay dividends later, I believe. Playing Boyle 18-20 minutes now would pay dividends later.

    4. Tom says:

      Something that really irritated me about last nights game vs the Blues, besides the total lack of physical play, yet again – was that Brad Winchester was the only player that seemed to realize that driving the net on a hot goaltender might be a good idea. 

      I can’t conclude that the Sharks players don’t know this – so I’m forced to believe that they’re NOT doing it because they are so over focused on playing T-Mac’s “system”…. which isn’t working. 

      A lack of physical play, getting in the eyes of the goaltender, even slighting interfering with opposing goaltenders, and turning all those SOG into actual goals – all seem like major omissions from T-Mac’s “system”. 

      I simply can’t believe that our veteran forwards like Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Havlat, Clowe, and even guys like Couture, Mitchell, and McGinn DON’T KNOW THIS… 

      I can’t come up with another reason  for the style of play they refuse to deviate from… If it really is the players then this team has more serious problems than I’ve ever realized. 

      That said though, I think the Sharks explode on the Hawks tonight and win something like 6-2. The Hawks suck defensively and the Sharks should have time and space out there tonight to get creative offensively. 

      Dudes what say you?

    5. Tom says:

      Something that really irritated me about last nights game vs the Blues, besides the total lack of physical play, yet again – was that Brad Winchester was the only player that seemed to realize that driving the net on a hot goaltender might be a good idea. 

      I can’t conclude that the Sharks players don’t know this – so I’m forced to believe that they’re NOT doing it because they are so over focused on playing T-Mac’s “system”…. which isn’t working. 

      A lack of physical play, getting in the eyes of the goaltender, even slighting interfering with opposing goaltenders, and turning all those SOG into actual goals – all seem like major omissions from T-Mac’s “system”. 

      I simply can’t believe that our veteran forwards like Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Havlat, Clowe, and even guys like Couture, Mitchell, and McGinn DON’T KNOW THIS… 

      I can’t come up with another reason  for the style of play they refuse to deviate from… If it really is the players then this team has more serious problems than I’ve ever realized. 

      That said though, I think the Sharks explode on the Hawks tonight and win something like 6-2. The Hawks suck defensively and the Sharks should have time and space out there tonight to get creative offensively. 

      Dudes what say you?

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