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Devils Alley: A Look at the New Conferences and a Preview of Tonight's Game Against Toronto

Latest_nhl_radical_realignment_plan_breaks_up_southeast_div_mediumYesterday, the NHL Board of Governors approved a new league alignment that will eliminate the current format of two conferences and six divisions and implement a new four conference league. The four new groups will have either seven or eight teams in each, and will eventually be named after former NHL players.

Not much will change for the New Jersey Devils, as the entire Atlantic Division will move into Conference D along with the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes. Each team will face each other six times, three home and three away, and will face all out of conference opponents twice, one home and one away.

One of the biggest benefits for this move will be a possible increase in attendance, something that the Devils desperately need. New Jersey is currently ranked 26th in the NHL with 14,416 fans per game (81.8 percent full) and has been on the decline in the past three seasons.

For example, the new conference will bring Washington into New Jersey three times a season, which means fans will get to see Alex Ovechkin more often. When the Capitals visit an opponent's arena, their games average about 17,000 fans or 96 percent full. Devils fans usually only see Sidney Crosby on a consistent basis, so bringing Ovechkin to New Jersey more often could boost their numbers dramatically.

The match-up with Carolina will also be interesting, as the Devils and Hurricanes seem to be building a rivalry in the current league setup. Since moving to Carolina, the Hurricanes are 43-56-12 in 115 games against the Devils, but goaltender Cam Ward has played in some heated games against Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. The two teams have also faced each other in the playoffs in 2009 and 2006, both of which went at least five games.

The only issue with the new realignment will be the playoffs, something that will leave the Devils with little room for error. The top four teams from each conference make the playoffs, but with teams like New York, Philadelphia, Carolina, and Washington, it may prove difficult to make the playoffs every season. New Jersey has only missed the playoffs once in the last 15 years.


Toronto+Maple+Leafs+v+New+Jersey+Devils+6Ybie_o9MmDlAs for tonight, the Devils will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs amidst a four game losing streak. New Jersey has been outscored 17-7 in losses to basement teams such as the Islanders, Jets, and Avalanche.

Head coach Pete DeBoer has shuffled his lines for tonight's game, moving Dainius Zubrus to the third line and moving Mattias Tedenby to the Elias line. It is an interesting move by DeBoer considering Tedenby did not play most of the third period against Winnipeg. Here are the projected pairings for tonight, courtesy of Tom Gulitti:


"We’re looking for some depths scoring. We’ve had trouble putting pucks in the back of the net the last four or five games, so we’re going to move some people around," Deboer told The Record. " I have comfort level with those three guys [Elias line], but we’re just trying to get some secondary scoring.”

Palmieri will make his first start since being recalled from the AHL earler this week. DeBoer sent the rookie down earlier this month as a wake-up call for the struggling forward. Defensemen Bryce Salvador also skated during morning practice and is expected to play after taking a day off.

Martin Brodeur will start in net over Johan Hedberg after sitting out Saturday's loss to Winnipeg. Brodeur is 35-15 with a 2.58 GAA against Toronto, which is his second largest GAA against any team in his career (Vancouver is 2.91).

"Coming off a 0-for-3 road trip, you want to get out of that as quickly as you possibly can,” DeBoer said. "I think this will be a good game tonight.”

Follow Joe on Twitter @jkuchie and check out Devils Alley at


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