By Jack Fenty
It’s that time of year again, when hockey fans question why the NHL playoff format is what it is. So, in this blog I will try to explain what the matchups would look like with the current format, former format, and a somewhat made-up format. All matchups will be based off the standings as of 3/21.
Few NHL fans know this but for one year the NHL used a format that had the top 8 teams from each conference make the playoffs and then those teams were pooled together in the playoffs and it had nothing to do with what conference the team was in…So how does it work?
1 plays 16 6 plays 11
2 plays 15 7 plays 10
3 plays 14 8 plays 9
4 plays 13
5 plays 12
What the matchups would look like:
1) Nashville Vs. 16) New Jersey
2)Tampa Bay Vs. 15) Dallas
3) Boston Vs. 14) Philadelphia
4) Vegas Vs. 13) Anaheim
5) Winnipeg Vs. 12) LA
6)Toronto Vs. 11) Pittsburgh
7)Washington Vs. 10) Colorado
8)San Jose Vs. 9) Minnesota
Reaction: It is cool to imagine this happening in the current NHL, but it would not work out for a couple of reasons. Both travel and time-zone differences would make it impossible for players to stay sharp between games. The NHL playoffs are already a grind and adding all this travel would be nuts.
The NHL reorganized into two conferences in the league and within each conference three divisions (6 total). 16 teams made the playoffs, 8 from each conference. The three first place teams in each division were placed at the top of the conference playoff bracket, 1-3, based on which team had most points. Of the other teams in each conference, the top five finishers qualified for the 4-8 spots.
1 plays 8 3 plays 6
2 plays 7 4 plays 5
If in 2018 the league had this format:
Reaction: With this format there will not be a lot of in-division rivalries during the first round, this is a CON for this format. But, the biggest PRO and why I think this is the best format is the teams who do not deserve to get knocked out in the first round usually do not. An upset can always happen but with this format the team with the most points in the conference plays the team with the least points in the playoffs in the conference giving the team with the higher seed the advantage.
The NHL realigned into four divisions. The top three teams in each division make the playoffs, and the two wild card spots make up two teams from either division based on points.
Best team in conference plays wildcard 2.
Best team in other division plays wild card 1.
Second best team in division plays third best team in division
What the matchups would look like:
Tampa Bay Lighting Vs. New Jersey Devils
Boston Bruins Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals Vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Nashville Predators Vs. Anaheim Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights Vs. Colorado Avalanche
San Jose Sharks Vs. Los Angeles Kings
Winnipeg Jets Vs. Minnesota Wild
Reaction: At first glance this format looks awesome; division rivals are playing each other all over the place. Yes, that makes for an awesome first round, but it is unfair for a team like Boston or Toronto. Both teams have more points have more points than anyone in the Metro Division, because of the format one of these great teams will be knocked out in the first round...How is this fair!? Overall, the format usually makes for more entertaining games, but it lets teams that don’t deserve to get knocked out get knocked out.
Overall, I think the best format for the NHL to use is the 1 Vs 8.
*Leave a comment on this blog or on twitter @NHLNosebleed about which format you would prefer the league to use.*
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