The NHL’s Southeast Division — or as some referred to it, the South Least — is no more after the league changed conference and division alignment for this season. The Eastern Conference consists of 16 teams divided into two divisions of eight teams each.
Tampa Bay now plays in the newly formed Atlantic Division — which, by the way, has no teams from the former Atlantic Division — that includes Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
On paper, it appears a much tougher division than the five-team Southeast, which last season included Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington and Winnipeg.
Of the eight teams in the Atlantic, five made the playoffs last season: Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
The Lightning will play each team in their division four times this season, with the exception of Florida and Detroit, which Tampa Bay will play five times.
The Metropolitan Division is comprised of Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Under the new playoff format, the top three teams in each division automatically qualify for the postseason, with the next two conference teams with the highest point totals qualifying as wild-card teams. That means five of eight teams from one division could reach the postseason.
The Western Conference is divided into two seven-team divisions.
The Central Division consists of Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg. The Pacific Division consists of Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.