Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cross-Division Point Race in Eastern Conference

The AHL Board of Governors has concluded their annual meeting and announced rule changes for next season. As expected, the Eastern Conference will feature a cross-division point race.

According to the AHL's press release: "The playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the AHL’s four divisions, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it would cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs."

In other words, standings in the conference are now almost as important as standings in the division.

Last year the cross over rule applied to the Western Conference. The West Division was then the only division with eight teams. Now the Atlantic Division is the only with eight, so the rule applies to the Eastern Conference.

The AHL has additionally altered the shootout format. According to the league, "no player may shoot twice until all eligible players have gone once. Previously, only five shooters per team were selected to participate in the entire shootout."

The experiment with one-minute overtime penalties has also been ended. "One-minute minor penalties during overtime, instituted at the request of NHL general managers in 2008-09, have been eliminated. Penalties in overtime will be served in full."