The Capitals weren’t much in the mood to discuss the finer points of realignment after tonight’s 5-4 loss in south Florida. But I caught up to GM George McPhee as he studied the news on his iPhone and Coach Dale Hunter and Karl Alzner before they left BankAtlantic Center.

The Capitals, as you may have read by now, are now in a seven-team conference with Carolina, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders and Rangers.

“We think it’s great for our fans that we’re back in the [Patrick Division] again,” McPhee said. “Because it’s been historically a great division and our fans have always loved those rivalries.

“It’s a great realignment in every regard,” he added. “Everybody else in the league seems to be happy as well. The Western teams have an extra team in their conference and less travel as a result.”

According to, the Capitals will have the fifth-shortest average distance to conference opponents at 195 miles.

“It will be the best travel schedule in the league,” McPhee said.

Defenseman Karl Alzner added: “Wow, how about that? We’re lucky. That’s the nice thing about being out on the East Coast. West, that’s a tough side to play on.”

Coach Dale Hunter cracked a smile when told that the Capitals will once again share a yet-to-be-named conference with some familiar foes.

“That’s good,” he said. “That’s a good situation. That’s good teams – it will be good competition.”