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NHL divisional playoff format is drawing criticism

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Old
03-22-2017, 02:14 PM
  #1
Llama19
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NHL divisional playoff format is drawing criticism

To quote:

"The Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Blue Jackets could finish 1-2-3 in points, but because they all play in the Metropolitan Division, the second- and third-place teams will face off in the first round. It's not the first time a loaded division has caused consternation about this playoff format — ask teams in the Central Division — but the groans are getting louder now with no end in sight."

Source: https://apnews.com/3dd34577856d47348...ing-criticism?

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03-22-2017, 02:33 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Honestly, this is just standard pre-playoff whining by people who are nervous for an edge in the bracket.

Under the old system (division winners get the top two seeds), the Metro #2 would be crying about how they have to face a hot #6 seed instead of a slumping #7.

Under a division-neutral system, you'd get people crying about how a strong team in a cupcake division can get an auto-#1 and that's not fair.

Meanwhile, this format is almost certainly going to create a Washington-Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh-Columbus series, either of which would be bonkers. And if it ends up being Washington-Columbus, then you get Pittsburgh-Toronto in the other bracket. Which is potentially the biggest first round moneymaker in history. Something tells me the NHL is ok with that.

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03-22-2017, 02:39 PM
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Nowhere near as bad as 1987-88, when the Patrick division (which had 6 teams vs 5 for the others) had 2 .500+ teams miss the playoffs (Rangers with 82 and Penguins with 81 points in 80 games, back when there were no loser points), while Toronto in the Norris over in the Western conference made it in with an inspiring 52 points, 1 point ahead of the worst team in the league, the North Stars.

This is what happens when you have divisional playoffs. It's *exactly* as designed. Of course, I believe the entire current conference alignment is handcuffing the NHL in terms of where it can expand, so maybe we should seriously look at 3 conferences or going to cross-regional divisions or something, with the playoffs going back to 1-8 conference brackets or even back to the 1970s style league-wide 1-16 brackets (though at the time it was a 12 team bracket with division winner byes in the first round, but I digress).

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03-22-2017, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montrealer View Post
Nowhere near as bad as 1987-88, when the Patrick division (which had 6 teams vs 5 for the others) had 2 .500+ teams miss the playoffs (Rangers with 82 and Penguins with 81 points in 80 games, back when there were no loser points), while Toronto in the Norris over in the Western conference made it in with an inspiring 52 points, 1 point ahead of the worst team in the league, the North Stars.

This is what happens when you have divisional playoffs. It's *exactly* as designed. Of course, I believe the entire current conference alignment is handcuffing the NHL in terms of where it can expand, so maybe we should seriously look at 3 conferences or going to cross-regional divisions or something, with the playoffs going back to 1-8 conference brackets or even back to the 1970s style league-wide 1-16 brackets (though at the time it was a 12 team bracket with division winner byes in the first round, but I digress).
IMO two things need to happen:

1) They need to get the geography sorted out, because unbalanced conferences is amateur hour.

2) They need to expand the playoff pool, either by adding some sort of play-in or by going to a completely new style of bracket.

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03-22-2017, 02:48 PM
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I get wanting to keep the divisions duking it out, it certainly serves its purpose.

I just think you should seed the teams and give divisional preference when it comes to matching top division teams with wildcards, otherwise leave the seeds.

Meaning that if the 1 seed division winner was in and the 7 seed wildcard was from the same division, that would be the match up instead of 1/8.

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03-22-2017, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
IMO two things need to happen:

1) They need to get the geography sorted out, because unbalanced conferences is amateur hour.

2) They need to expand the playoff pool, either by adding some sort of play-in or by going to a completely new style of bracket.
I agree with point 1. But MLB did it for years before getting it fixed.
As to point 2 even when we get to 32 teams, which will happen, at the current number of teams that is 50% of the league making the playoffs.
Which is more than enough.

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03-22-2017, 03:05 PM
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In other words, we have a an excellent round 1 matchup?

I'm so sad....

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03-22-2017, 03:15 PM
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I liked the old 1-8 format. However let the players decide on the format they prefer and revisit it every x amount of years

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03-22-2017, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by NEPA View Post
I liked the old 1-8 format. However let the players decide on the format they prefer and revisit it every x amount of years
And as someone on the west coast I hated it. They always gave start time preference to the eastern most team. Meaning very early start times.

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03-22-2017, 03:25 PM
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People are getting way too worked up about this, it's not a big deal. There are very few "easy" series in the NHL playoffs like there were 20 years ago. The 7-8 seeds generally come in hot since they have to be playing good hockey to make it to the top of the wild card chase. Maybe a bit more in the west still since the playoff race isn't as intense with just 14 teams.

You think the Rangers are happy to be playing Montreal? Go check out Lunqvist's career splits.

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03-22-2017, 03:31 PM
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It's garbage and just because it was also garbage in the 80s doesn't excuse it for being garbage today. 1-8 isn't perfect, but it's infinitely preferable to this.

At least the NHL has a real playoff system and won't be forcing the teams with the 2nd & 3rd best records to play a one game play-in to advance to the 'real' playoffs like we saw in MLB a couple years ago.

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03-22-2017, 03:37 PM
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The only close fair system would be each team plays every other team twice and the top 16 make it. When you have imbalanced schedules between divisions not sure how you can argue anything but a divisional playoff system is the most fair.

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03-22-2017, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsanuri View Post
I agree with point 1. But MLB did it for years before getting it fixed.
As to point 2 even when we get to 32 teams, which will happen, at the current number of teams that is 50% of the league making the playoffs.
Which is more than enough.
Why is it more than enough? The NHL's main product is its playoffs. That's where they really rake in the gate revenue and justify their TV contract. Why would you want to limit it so that only half the league even gets involved -- leaving out markets like Philly and LA if it were to start today? Other than fans who want an easier path to a championship, who actually benefits from that?

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03-22-2017, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montrealer View Post
Nowhere near as bad as 1987-88, when the Patrick division (which had 6 teams vs 5 for the others) had 2 .500+ teams miss the playoffs (Rangers with 82 and Penguins with 81 points in 80 games, back when there were no loser points), while Toronto in the Norris over in the Western conference made it in with an inspiring 52 points, 1 point ahead of the worst team in the league, the North Stars.
Even more than that, the 86-87 Norris division had 0 teams with more wins than losses. 4 were guaranteed playoff spots, and 1 was guaranteed to make the 3rd round. 76% of the teams made the playoffs back then, so, things like that were going to be tough to avoid.

Quote:
This is what happens when you have divisional playoffs. It's *exactly* as designed. Of course, I believe the entire current conference alignment is handcuffing the NHL in terms of where it can expand, so maybe we should seriously look at 3 conferences or going to cross-regional divisions or something, with the playoffs going back to 1-8 conference brackets or even back to the 1970s style league-wide 1-16 brackets (though at the time it was a 12 team bracket with division winner byes in the first round, but I digress).
The playoffs were divisional in the 80's, after the 70's free for all, for the same reason the playoffs are now some sort of divisional/conference hybrid format, after what the previous western conference was(spanning 4 time zones, with 2 divisions spanning 3 time zones). It's time zones. They matter. Every time the league has changed their playoff format, I think it's always been something different.

Other than some crazy ideas, my opinion would be to make the East 1-8, because all the teams are in the same time zone. It's really easy to figure out the East. They should then let the Western franchises figure out what works best for them. No more one size fits all. If the western teams want 1-8, that's great. If they want a strict top 4, that's fine. If they want to keep this hybrid thing, or change it a little, that's ok. To me, there's no reason the two conferences need the same playoff format. I don't even think they need the same alignment, should either conference want to do something different. Like if the East wants smaller divisions, while the West wants to keep larger ones, why not do that?

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03-22-2017, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big McLargehuge View Post
It's garbage and just because it was also garbage in the 80s doesn't excuse it for being garbage today. 1-8 isn't perfect, but it's infinitely preferable to this.

At least the NHL has a real playoff system and won't be forcing the teams with the 2nd & 3rd best records to play a one game play-in to advance to the 'real' playoffs like we saw in MLB a couple years ago.
This. You play well in the regular season to get rewarded in the playoffs by getting easier matchups against worse teams in the early rounds. Instead we're going to have at minimum 2 of the top 4 teams in the league playing each other in the 1st round.

Go back to 1 vs 8. This isn't even a true divisional format anyways as evidenced by Nashville playing Anaheim and San Jose in the playoffs last year.

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03-22-2017, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by AdmiralsFan24 View Post
This. You play well in the regular season to get rewarded in the playoffs by getting easier matchups against worse teams in the early rounds. Instead we're going to have at minimum 2 of the top 4 teams in the league playing each other in the 1st round.

Go back to 1 vs 8. This isn't even a true divisional format anyways as evidenced by Nashville playing Anaheim and San Jose in the playoffs last year.
And that's because the PA didn't like the original re-alignment idea. Maybe they didn't because of lockout politics, or maybe they really didn't like it, but either way, that's the main reason why we have this hybrid wild card format.

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03-22-2017, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by KingsFan7824 View Post

Other than some crazy ideas, my opinion would be to make the East 1-8, because all the teams are in the same time zone. It's really easy to figure out the East. They should then let the Western franchises figure out what works best for them. No more one size fits all. If the western teams want 1-8, that's great. If they want a strict top 4, that's fine. If they want to keep this hybrid thing, or change it a little, that's ok. To me, there's no reason the two conferences need the same playoff format. I don't even think they need the same alignment, should either conference want to do something different. Like if the East wants smaller divisions, while the West wants to keep larger ones, why not do that?
Having two different systems would be very amateurish to me. And I think get quite a bit of ridicule from the media for it.

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03-22-2017, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Why is it more than enough? The NHL's main product is its playoffs. That's where they really rake in the gate revenue and justify their TV contract. Why would you want to limit it so that only half the league even gets involved -- leaving out markets like Philly and LA if it were to start today? Other than fans who want an easier path to a championship, who actually benefits from that?
I just think it devalues the regular season having any more teams in the playoffs. The league was a joke back in the day when 67% of the league was making the playoffs and I personally don't want to see it go back there.

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03-22-2017, 04:36 PM
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I'm fine with divisional playoffs.
Just ditch the wildcard system and go 4/4.

Though we need to get a 32nd team in the league for the optics of that to work properly.

This is the best system you can have when the schedule itself is unbalanced and can create a fake 'strong' division because they happen to get more games against weaker opponents. If both divisions played other teams an equal number of times, then yes you can do 1-8. But they don't.

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03-22-2017, 04:39 PM
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I'm fine with divisional playoffs.
Just ditch the wildcard system and go 4/4.

Though we need to get a 32nd team in the league for the optics of that to work properly.
I think the wild card is something the NHLPA and league do really like. It gives that flexibility for the years when one division is better than the other to have the top 8 in each conference make the playoffs. I just wish they would fix it to where if there are 4 from each division making the playoffs there is no crossover.

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03-22-2017, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
IMO two things need to happen:

1) They need to get the geography sorted out, because unbalanced conferences is amateur hour.

2) They need to expand the playoff pool, either by adding some sort of play-in or by going to a completely new style of bracket.
I completely disagree 16 teams out of 30 (going on 31) teams making the playoffs is more than enough.

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03-22-2017, 04:47 PM
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You guys can't say that its okay for Rangers to fight for a wildcard spot with 94 pts while Habs (91), Sens (88) and Bruins (82) are in a better position of making them.

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03-22-2017, 04:56 PM
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The only close fair system would be each team plays every other team twice and the top 16 make it. When you have imbalanced schedules between divisions not sure how you can argue anything but a divisional playoff system is the most fair.
I agree? Or two conferences where they have balanced schedules but whenever that is proposed, the team's from the Metro division are the most vehemently against it. Since they would rather see their division rival for the 3rd time at home in February, than certain teams in the other division the 2nd time. The type of teams they now wish to see in April.

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03-22-2017, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by tsanuri View Post
Having two different systems would be very amateurish to me. And I think get quite a bit of ridicule from the media for it.
But there would be a reason for it. It's not randomly two different systems. It's based on travel and time zones. The East and West are already two different systems, masked by homogeneity. Look at the travel differences for teams. Some teams take buses to games. Other teams never do.

Why doesn't a single team in the East want to take one for the good of the group, for the integrity of the league, and move west to even out the conferences?

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Originally Posted by powerstuck View Post
You guys can't say that its okay for Rangers to fight for a wildcard spot with 94 pts while Habs (91), Sens (88) and Bruins (82) are in a better position of making them.
The Rangers aren't really fighting for a wildcard spot.

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03-22-2017, 05:04 PM
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fair, there's no crying in hockey.

Everybody is 0-0 in the playoffs. No excuses, MAN UP


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