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02-26-2013, 07:44 PM
  #1
Rupertslander
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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The new playoff format - specifically, the wildcard/crossover rule

With some form of a four "Conference" alignment now appearing to be inevitable, the main issue to resolve appears to be the new playoff format.

As reported on TSN - http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=416857 - the League appears to be partial to a format that emphasizes in-conference matchups. That makes sense - we all want to keep travel to a reasonable minimum while ensuring the qualification odds are reasonably fair.

It appears the League wants to guarantee three teams per conference a playoff spot. That's reasonable enough. It leaves four "wildcard" places for the teams below third to compete for. So - the question is, how do match up the teams when there are odd numbers of teams from some conferences in the first and second rounds.

For those who haven't already seen it, here is my solution: first, for every conference regardless of the number of playoff teams, first place in a conference always plays the bottom playoff team from the same conference, thus ensuring first place will never, ever have to leave its own conference for the first round (probably to be called the "Wildcard Series"). Then, for conferences with four or more playoff teams, second plays the second from bottom playoff team. In the rare circumstance that there be are six or seven teams from one conference in the playoffs, then third in that conference will play the third from bottom playoff team.

That process will, of course, leave the "middle seed" playoff teams from conferences with an odd number of playoff teams - it is these teams that will play one another in interconference or "crossover" series. Home ice IMHO should always be determined by regular season record, not conference ranking.

If there were a crossover team from every conference, then these would usually be seeded, based on regular season records, 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, but with the caveat that the seeding would be changed to 1 vs 3 and 2 vs 4 if that matched up the teams from the western conferences and the eastern conferences against one another.

For the second round (probably to be called the "Conference Series"), we essentially repeat the same process. This means that in the second round, a first place team would not have to play in a crossover series unless it was the only surviving team from the conference. It also means the winners of the crossover series from the first round would not necessarily have to play crossover series again in the second round.

For the third round (the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals), the teams should be seeded based on their regular season records - 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, regardless of conference rank and/or affiliation.

I look forward to your feedback - please keep your replies on topic.

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