On Friday the NHL released the 2013-2014 regular season schedule. This season will be the first played under the new conference and division alignment which sent Winnipeg west and Columbus and Detroit east. A key aspect of the new alignment is that there is an imbalance in the number of teams in the East (16) and in the West (14). In this post I'll discuss a paper I wrote a couple months back (How the West will be Won: Using Monte Carlo Simulations to Estimate the Effects of NHL Realignment). In the paper, I show that because 8 teams make the playoffs from each conference, the new alignment and playoff qualification rules unfairly disadvantage Eastern Conference teams.
Specifically, I'll show that the 8th seed in the East will (on average) be 2 or 3 points better in the standings than the 8th seed in the West. And I'll show that about 40% of the time, the 9th seed in the East would have made the playoffs if they were in the West (compared to just 20% of the time when the inverse is true).