Uh-oh: Realignment and the Bettman Point
This just occurred to me. We often complain about the fact that the "Bettman point" (the point awarded to the loser in OT/SO games) makes games less exciting because teams have an incentive to play more conservatively just to get to overtime, where "everybody wins." However, so far, one force that keeps this in check is the fact that teams play within the conference 64 out of 82 games, and nobody wants to hand out extra points to rivals in their conference. And we have all observed the "who cares" attitude that takes over when playing out-of-conference games (i.e. it doesn't matter if we give away extra points to out-of-conference teams, because it doesn't affect our own playoff race).
But starting next year, out-of-conference games go from 18 to 44 (46 in the 7 team conferences). And games within the conference go from 64 to 38 (36 in the 7 team conferences).
This means that, instead of 18 out of 82 games with the "who cares" attitude, we'll be looking at 44 of them. Forty-four games in which there will be a strong incentive to play conservative, dull, prevent-defense hockey.
Get rid of the Bettman point. It's bad now, and it's about to be twice as bad. Or, 44/18ths as bad, to be exact. (My suggestion for how to do that is still the best in my humble opinion, but of course no one will ever do it.)