As I write another fan post out of boredom, I decided to analyze how Ottawa's playoff chances are affected by the new alignment. The Top 3 teams for each division will qualify and 2 other teams will Wild Card based on points.
To start off, this year's final standings in points for the C Division.
Ottawa: 56 (but 1 less ROW than Detroit)
Right off the bat the point totals suggest an extremely tight and difficult division heading into next year. However based on this years totals, both Ottawa and Detroit would still make the playoffs by virtue of the wild card (and Ottawa would have ended up playing the Pens if the playoff setup was for this year). However there are various factors which will also effect how this translates to next year.
1.Factors really unlikely to be repeated for next season
Detriot, Ottawa and Florida (No.1, 2 and 4 respectively in man games lost) are not all going to have so many injuries. Toronto is not going to compete regularly giving the opponents 10-20 more shots. Of the 8 teams in the division, only the play of Montreal and Boston raise no flags into translating the success into next year.
2. Beating up on the former South-least division.
Statistically we ended up with the weakest teams from the dissolved division. Florida is likely a year or two away from really pushing for a spot and Tampa could not make the playoffs despite being fourth in scoring in the Eastern Conference (only 1 goal behind Washington and Montreal). Both teams have had recent goaltending woes, with Tampa hoping Bishop can continue his play from Ottawa.
3. Goaltending looks largely to be a wash for the playoff teams.
4. As of now, Ottawa easily has the most improved team of the division.
7 points separated Ottawa from first place. But only 2 points separated 5th and 3rd. Given Ottawa had its offence gutted and lost 17 of its 23 losses by 1 goal (15 of the 23) or shutout (1-0 1-0 4-0 3-0), they are likely due for an improvement based entirely on an injection of offence. Detroit was injured but had its stars healthy, they are trending down. Montreal began running into trouble very quickly once injuries hit. Toronto and Montreal had everything going right offensively. 8 of their nine season starting forwards played 40 or more games, with Ottawa having only 5 of their starting nine playing 40 or more.
5. Division D does not look to get any better then it was this year.
Pittsburgh will do well, of that we can all agree....after that it is a crapshoot. Washington feasted on a terrible division, it will not have that luxury. Carolina, Philadelphia and New Jersey all have major questions marks heading into next year. Columbus appears to be trending up, but will rely heavily on goaltending to have a chance. The Rangers will live and die on King Henrik and god knows how the Islanders will do next year. It is very possible 5th place in Division C will once again be better than the bottom five of division D.
Looking over the issues, the new division setup doesn't particularly hurt Ottawa's chances. Ottawa was competitive despite its shortcomings, well 2 of the teams in front of them (Montreal/Toronto) faced little adversity as a team during the year with Montreal coming off the rails once the injuries began to mount. Buffalo/Florida are unlikely to do any damage next year, well Tampa must improve its team defence to contend. Detroit is an unknown, they are the model franchise and well not contenders, are expected to be in the mix. Of the division only Boston has no issues. The only benefit (as of now) is the setup of division D. It currently has only 1 sure thing, followed by 7 teams which scare no one. Mediocrity will not be tolerated under the new system and only the Islanders appear to be trending up going into next year.