The NHL is better when divisional rivalries exist; just ask Boston Bruins fans about the Montreal Canadiens.
Fact is though that the Boston Bruins right now only play the Canadiens four times a year in the regular season and by the time you spread those fixtures out, all animosity fizzles out, generally speaking.
You only need look across at Alberta and see that the nastiness between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames is a selling point for the NHL and the game of hockey, in general. These two teams showed genuine emotion.
With Seattle soon to arrive in the NHL and even the numbers up at 32, the chance is there for the NHL to adjust the schedule so we see more divisional rivalries evolve.
The league is unlikely to want to take games off the schedule, so we’ve worked off an 82-game calendar to determine the best possible way of increasing the animosity within the Atlantic and indeed, the other divisions across the league.
Simple maths says you can have half the games in a season against Atlantic Division rivals if you ramp up the divisional games from 4 to 6.
Imagine the Boston Bruins seeing the Montreal Canadiens six times a year. In fact, based on their recent playoff series, imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs and Bruins six times a year!
With six games each against each Atlantic Division rival, you’ve got 40 more games to determine.
The thinking here is that the Boston Bruins should then face each team in the Metro Division 2 times a season.
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As for heading West, every Western Conference opponent would be scheduled against the Boston Bruins 1 time each season. That takes the games count up to 74.
The final eight games would alternate between facing those in the Pacific and those in the Central Division for a second fixture each year.
It’d mean we only see Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks at best twice a season – not too awful for us! One road-trip to the West Coast ever second year, one Western Canada jaunt – it makes sense if the league is looking to be more environmentally friendly too!
The maths adds up and the rivalries would no doubt stir the Bruins fan base, among others. Whether the NHL would be bold enough to adjust it’s schedule in such a manner though is anyone’s guess.
Personally, I’m all for seeing more of the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs and far less of teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars!