It has indeed been a Tale of Two Leagues through the first quarter of the season. Who can say how much this incestuous inter-divisional play is contributing to a false sense of security on the part of certain clubs? So it is with great anticipation that the first week of December will kick off with a series of inter-conference matchups. Ottawa visits Vancouver on December 9th (why, yes that is the exact date of the annual office Christmas party, thanks!) and follows up with meetings in Calgary and Colorado within the next three days. Unfortunately, any Ottawa-Detroit matchup will have to wait until late next spring.
This year the Northeast (featuring half the Canadian teams and half the Original Six) will visit the Northwest while the Pacific division will visit the Northeast. The three year cycle will see each division visit an opposing conference division once and host them once.
I earlier predicted that the new schedule would grow tiresome. I mean, if the Canucks can't even get up for the Avalanche, then it appears the intent of manufacturing rivalries and cranking up regular season intensity has created the exact opposite effect. Letter writers to the Province over the weekend were less than enthusiastic about this season's program (you mean we're getting the Wild again? hooray!). While season ticket holders tend to be perennial cranks (the music is too loud, the hotdogs are too expensive, etc.), I'd agree with them here in that the only time you need to see the same team more than once a month is during the playoffs.
Don't get me wrong: repeatedly bloodying the noses of division rivals can be satisfying and a few more rounds with the Flyers, Canes and Rangers are in order before getting too cocky over here, but don't you find even the Leafs-Sens / Leafs-Habs battles lose just a little bit of their premium when overdone?