If the NHL had been able to assemble a 50-game schedule, the numbers would have worked out nicely (5 games against each division opponent, plus 3 vs. the other conference opponents = 50 games). Since they can only manage 48, however, things won't quite balance out like that, as TSN's Bob McKenzie reports:
In a 48-game schedule, there'll be no play between conferences. East plays East and West plays West. But here's the schedule matrix for 48:— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 8, 2013
Each team plays: 4 games vs. two Divisional opponents (8); 5 games vs. two divisional opponents (10); 3 games vs 10 Conference rivals (30).— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 8, 2013
In the Central Division, you can bet that teams will be hoping to draw Columbus as their 5-game opponent, given the Blue Jackets' standing relative to the rest of the pack. Stay tuned for the release of the full 2013 NHL schedule, which should come in the next few days.