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NHL divisional playoff format is drawing criticism

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Old
03-23-2017, 09:59 AM
  #51
patnyrnyg
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The benefits I see to a format like this:

1) Contrary to the argument that it devalues the regular season, it actually increases interest in the regular season for at least 3-4 teams per conference. As it stands, the NHL has a well-documented problem with maintaining fan interest in the regular season, so I don't think there's a good argument that the status quo should be protected. Bringing in more markets during the stretch run would have tangible benefits for the league as a whole and several franchises in particular.

2) It creates more playoff dates. Plain and simple. More high-profile games to broadcast, more high-dollar tickets to sell.

3) It gives lower-seeded teams a jolt of excitement that's more significant than squeaking across the line and then immediately getting slaughtered by a top seed. Imagine the excitement in Toronto or Winnipeg if they won a play-in series, even if they got quickly axed in the main bracket.

4) It actually privileges the top seeds a bit more, giving them the advantage of facing an exhausted lower seed. And frankly, that's a good thing for the league. I like a Cinderella story as much as the next guy, but the truth from a marketing standpoint is that you want your top teams to still be there in the later rounds, and you want to be able to promote the stars who feast on weakened first round opponents.

5) It creates an engaging new dynamic where there's a BIG difference between finishing 6th and 7th, so there's added interest in the middle-tier race.


I really don't see a significant downside. "That's too many teams" isn't a business argument, not to mention it doesn't hold water in hockey culture where 50%+ playoff qualification has been the norm for several generations.
I believe they did a 7-10, 8-9 first round in the AHL about 15 years ago. Not sure for how many seasons, but the general consensus was it was dumb.

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03-23-2017, 10:25 AM
  #52
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The benefits I see to a format like this:

1) Contrary to the argument that it devalues the regular season, it actually increases interest in the regular season for at least 3-4 teams per conference. As it stands, the NHL has a well-documented problem with maintaining fan interest in the regular season, so I don't think there's a good argument that the status quo should be protected. Bringing in more markets during the stretch run would have tangible benefits for the league as a whole and several franchises in particular.

2) It creates more playoff dates. Plain and simple. More high-profile games to broadcast, more high-dollar tickets to sell.

3) It gives lower-seeded teams a jolt of excitement that's more significant than squeaking across the line and then immediately getting slaughtered by a top seed. Imagine the excitement in Toronto or Winnipeg if they won a play-in series, even if they got quickly axed in the main bracket.

4) It actually privileges the top seeds a bit more, giving them the advantage of facing an exhausted lower seed. And frankly, that's a good thing for the league. I like a Cinderella story as much as the next guy, but the truth from a marketing standpoint is that you want your top teams to still be there in the later rounds, and you want to be able to promote the stars who feast on weakened first round opponents.

5) It creates an engaging new dynamic where there's a BIG difference between finishing 6th and 7th, so there's added interest in the middle-tier race.


I really don't see a significant downside. "That's too many teams" isn't a business argument, not to mention it doesn't hold water in hockey culture where 50%+ playoff qualification has been the norm for several generations.
It was 76% in the 80's. That would be like 23 teams making the playoffs today. It was 67% back in the O6 days, when men were men, and hockey was played by legends. Not sure if I'm for play-in type games, and going to 10 teams might be too much, but I'm not flat out against it. It does create an extra level of drama, can't deny that.

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03-23-2017, 10:40 AM
  #53
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I think this format needs more than two years to really catch on.

The divisional aspect over time will be great. Some will say that seeing the same teams in the playoffs gets boring. I think the opposite. More series of Toronto/Montreal, Calgary/Edmonton, NYR/NYR, Pittsburgh/Philly, Chicago/St. Louis? Yes please. That's how rivalries build, grow and intensify.

The fact that the Rangers would be leading the Atlantic division? These ebbs and flows will happen. A few years down the road maybe the Atlantic is the dominant division, or the standings are balanced.

Practically any system will have its warts.

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03-23-2017, 10:43 AM
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
The benefits I see to a format like this:

1) Contrary to the argument that it devalues the regular season, it actually increases interest in the regular season for at least 3-4 teams per conference. As it stands, the NHL has a well-documented problem with maintaining fan interest in the regular season, so I don't think there's a good argument that the status quo should be protected. Bringing in more markets during the stretch run would have tangible benefits for the league as a whole and several franchises in particular.

2) It creates more playoff dates. Plain and simple. More high-profile games to broadcast, more high-dollar tickets to sell.

3) It gives lower-seeded teams a jolt of excitement that's more significant than squeaking across the line and then immediately getting slaughtered by a top seed. Imagine the excitement in Toronto or Winnipeg if they won a play-in series, even if they got quickly axed in the main bracket.

4) It actually privileges the top seeds a bit more, giving them the advantage of facing an exhausted lower seed. And frankly, that's a good thing for the league. I like a Cinderella story as much as the next guy, but the truth from a marketing standpoint is that you want your top teams to still be there in the later rounds, and you want to be able to promote the stars who feast on weakened first round opponents.

5) It creates an engaging new dynamic where there's a BIG difference between finishing 6th and 7th, so there's added interest in the middle-tier race.


I really don't see a significant downside. "That's too many teams" isn't a business argument, not to mention it doesn't hold water in hockey culture where 50%+ playoff qualification has been the norm for several generations.
Going back to Original Six days, 4 out of 6 teams made the playoffs. When the league expanded, it went to 8 of 12. Then 12 of 17. Eventually to 16 of 21. That 16 number hasn't changed as the league is now at 31 teams. That puts more emphasis on each game. That has led to the defensive systems we have now which has made the game worse, IMO.

Expanding the playoffs not only has the benefit of keeping more fans of more teams engaged, it probably would open the game up slightly. I've argued that the Dead Puck Era correlated with expansion as implementing a system was/is a whole lot easier than finding/developing skilled players. I really don't think the 80's offensive era had much to do with the players in the league at the time; I find it more of a fact that you were most likely making the playoffs anyway, so there was less emphasis on playing hard defense, and more emphasis on scoring. Third liners back in the 80's were guys scoring 20 goals.

It also means a 2-5-1 start doesn't kill a team before the leaves are falling.

Not to mention, teams would no longer be in hockey purgatory, continually finishing 9th or 10th in the conference, not making the playoffs, but not finishing low enough to draft a real immediate game changer in the 1st round. It also mitigates the tanking strategy, which has to be one of the worst things that has ever seen the light of day in professional sports. The current playoff structure encourages tanking.

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03-23-2017, 10:49 AM
  #55
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On the positive side of the play-in idea. Let's say the top-3 in each division got in, and then the next 4 played in a play-in round. Would give the Rangers reason to play. Right now, they are pretty much locked into that 1st wild card. Bruins are the 2nd wild card and 12 points behind the Rangers. But, Rangers are 6 points behind the Jackets for 3rd, with Columbus having 2 games in hand. BUT, with a play-in round, it would force them to try to go for 3rd place to avoide having to play the 4th wild card team in a single game or short series where anything can happen.

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03-23-2017, 10:54 AM
  #56
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
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.
You've got to be kidding me. Sure, it may "guarantee" more rivalry matchups or formation of rivalries, but that doesn't make it right for the teams. The players are getting hosed here as are the fans who are more likely to see meaningless regular season hockey under this format.

How in the world can you rationally say the 2nd best team in the conference should play the 3rd best team in the FIRST ROUND (very, very, very rare in old division 1-8 seeding). The whole thing is moronic as a whole. Not only does the worse division have the benefit of an easier season schedule, they then get an easier playoff schedule to boot. Disregarding this year, that's actually my biggest issue with this format. It benefits weak divisions dramatically since you don't crossover until the conference finals. Worst case scenario is play the 4th best team from the better division in rounds 1 or 2....

If you honestly think a first round of:
WSH BOS
PIT COL
MON NYR
OTT TOR

Is the fair way to do things vs:
WSH BOS
MON (1st in division) TOR
PIT OTT
NYR COL

Then I don't know what to tell you.

The 5 seed in this craptastic format gets to go through the teams that are 5, 6, 7 in points in the conference.

The 1 seed gets to go through teams 2,3,8 to reach conference finals. That's absurd. You are always going to have mis-seeds. I completely agree with that. However, not only is a 1-8 less likely to have such extremes, but it also is much more likely to autocorrect mis-seeds in the 2nd round. In this format, it doesn't happen until the conference finals.

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03-23-2017, 10:58 AM
  #57
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Originally Posted by NCRanger View Post
It also mitigates the tanking strategy, which has to be one of the worst things that has ever seen the light of day in professional sports. The current playoff structure encourages tanking.
I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. Tanking is the result of having 25% of the league clearly out of the playoffs by the midway point. Given the choice of incentives, middle-ground teams will always prefer to push for the playoffs rather than jostle for draft position. Expanding the playoff pool provides a positive incentive to more of those teams to keep pushing.

Under a 10-team bracket, you'd only have 1 or maybe 2 teams per conference which were just obviously going to finish outside the playoffs. If the other 13-14 are pushing hard to get ahead, then the bottom-dweller gets left behind pretty quickly. Which means that they're secure in their draft position and actually have some genuine incentive to learn to win rather than suppressing themselves. That's better for young players, and more encouraging for fans of those bottom-dwellers. It's better for literally everyone involved.

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03-23-2017, 11:01 AM
  #58
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Originally Posted by CoryForVezina View Post
How in the world can you rationally say the 2nd best team in the conference should play the 3rd best team in the FIRST ROUND (very, very, very rare in old division 1-8 seeding).
Well it's also rare to have the top 3 teams in a conference all in the same division. No matter how you arrange the bracket, flukes can and will happen.

And frankly, what are those fans so scared of? It's the playoffs. Put on your big boy pants and show you're the better team, otherwise what are you expecting to get out of the experience? The whole point is to beat the best.

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03-23-2017, 11:20 AM
  #59
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Originally Posted by patnyrnyg View Post
On the positive side of the play-in idea. Let's say the top-3 in each division got in, and then the next 4 played in a play-in round. Would give the Rangers reason to play. Right now, they are pretty much locked into that 1st wild card. Bruins are the 2nd wild card and 12 points behind the Rangers. But, Rangers are 6 points behind the Jackets for 3rd, with Columbus having 2 games in hand. BUT, with a play-in round, it would force them to try to go for 3rd place to avoide having to play the 4th wild card team in a single game or short series where anything can happen.
It would either be a Top 10 conference or a Top 5 Division format. There wouldn't be any hybrid (other than the Division winners automatically being 1/2).

The Rangers would either be the #5 seed playing # 4 Columbus in the conference scenario, or they'd be the #4 division seed against the #5 Islanders/Canes

Either way, they have a tough draw, but this year is a fluke.

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03-23-2017, 11:20 AM
  #60
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I still maintain the format the PA shot down about 4-5 years ago was better. I've never seen a reporter followup as to why the NHL never got on that train again.

I know the average hockey fan would watch, but seeing bottom teams fight for bottom playoff sports just feels like cheap entertainment that I would have zero interest in. I acknowledge it works better with hockey, but imagine if you proposed this in the NBA? I think the fans there would see through it and not see much value in it.

If 10 teams are getting in, I would just see an 82 game season as such a waste. Why even need 82 games to weed out 20 teams.....


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03-23-2017, 11:43 AM
  #61
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FYI 5 games series were hated by all when they tried them. It didn't last long.

There is no need to change series lengths or add more teams or more stupid gimmicks like play in games.

I'd have a balanced conference schedule and 1-8 in each conference make the playoffs.

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03-23-2017, 12:19 PM
  #62
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There were people complaining about the old way too. To me it should be 1 vs. 16 2 vs. 15 league wide playoffs. I also expect them to change things when they expand to 32 teams.

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03-23-2017, 12:57 PM
  #63
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The current format is absolutely horrible and one of the worst play-off formats in the history of Sports. The whole rivalry thing is stupid. Trying to artificially create rivalries is stupid. Rivalries happen when they happen. Remember Detroit/Colorado in the 90s? - not even in the same division . Circumstances creates rivalries not sheer repetition. It's organic. Everyone here in Winnipeg is trying really really hard to manifest a rivalry with Minnesota but I would argue the Jets have more of rivalry with the Pens right now than with the Wild. Why? Maybe because the Wild play a very discipline, boring (and effective) style that doesn't really lend itself to muster up a rivalry with anyone. Sheer repetition doesn't necessarily create more rivalries.

And then there is this disparity with the Match-ups in the East that is well documented this year and will invariably happen yearly. I don't want to see the same teams play each other over and over and over and over and over again. I don't want to see Groundhog Day Hockey.

And for all those who say "Stop complaining theres bound to be some problems with any format!". My answer to that is yes your right, BUT why go to a system that has MORE problems/warts/things you have to live with/oh well that's life bla blal blah...... than the previous format? It make no sense. Here's an idea: go with a strict 1-8 seeding for each conference with no top 3 bonus for winning a division. Keep the same scheduling matrix we have now so divisions would still be recognized for that purpose. That will keep travel down in the regular season. There may be a bit more travel in the playoffs, but I'm sure players would accept a bit more travel in the playoffs if it means a fairer playoff format. Is this this perfect? - No. But its better than this gong show of a format.

As for the 7-10, 8-9 play-in idea. Im not too crazy about that idea. Is it really fair for a team that has worked hard all year to miss the play-offs due to a one-off loss vs the 10th seed which has 15ish less points than you?


Last edited by Jetsfan79: 03-23-2017 at 01:02 PM.
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03-23-2017, 12:58 PM
  #64
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Originally Posted by cutchemist42 View Post
I still maintain the format the PA shot down about 4-5 years ago was better. I've never seen a reporter followup as to why the NHL never got on that train again.

I know the average hockey fan would watch, but seeing bottom teams fight for bottom playoff sports just feels like cheap entertainment that I would have zero interest in. I acknowledge it works better with hockey, but imagine if you proposed this in the NBA? I think the fans there would see through it and not see much value in it.

If 10 teams are getting in, I would just see an 82 game season as such a waste. Why even need 82 games to weed out 20 teams.....
Then why were 80 games played to weed out 5 for a decade or so?

Personally, I would be more entertained by an 82 game season that was a little more laid back and you'd occassionally see a 7-5 game, instead of 75 games of 2-1 trap fests.

I know some people are entertained by games with 14 shots on goal. I don't know who would be, but I guess some are.

Frankly, the number of extremely bad NBA teams is probably double the amount of bad NHL teams.

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03-23-2017, 01:02 PM
  #65
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The current format is absolutely horrible and one of the worst play-off formats in the history of Sports. The whole rivalry thing is stupid. Trying to artificially create rivalries is stupid. Rivalries happen when they happen. Remember Detroit/Colorado in the 90s? - not even in the same division . Circumstances creates rivalries not sheer repetition. It's organic. Everyone here in Winnipeg is trying really really hard to manifest a rivalry with Minnesota but I would argue the Jets have more of rivalry with the Pens right now than with the Wild. Why? Maybe because the Wild play a very discipline, boring (and effective) style that doesn't really lend itself to muster up a rivalry with anyone. Sheer repetition doesn't necessarily create more rivalries.

And then there is this disparity with the Match-ups in the East that is well documented this year and will invariably happen yearly. I don't want to see the same teams play each other over and over and over and over and over again. I don't want to see Groundhog Day Hockey.

And for all those who say "Stop complaining theres bound to be some problems with any format!". My answer to that is yes your right, BUT why go to a system that has MORE problems/warts/things you have to live with/oh well that's life bla blal blah...... than the previous format? It make no sense. Here's an idea: go with a strict 1-8 seeding for each conference with no top 3 bonus for winning a division. Keep the same scheduling matrix than we have now so divisions would still be recognized for that purpose. That will keep travel down in the regular season. There may be more travel in the playoffs, but I'm sure players would accept a bit more travel if its means a fair playoff format. Is this this perfect? - No. But its better than this gong show of a format.

As for the 7-10, 8-9 play-in idea. Im not too crazy about that idea. Is it really fair for a team that has worked hard all year to miss the play-offs due to a one-off loss vs the 10th seed which has 15ish less points they you?
Except that doesn't fundamentally work.

Why should the Rangers and Penguins play five times while the Senators play the same teams three times?

Senators also get Buffalo and Detroit four or five times.

You're giving teams an unfair advantage. The difference in the standings is so small these days, that a three game swing against easier opposition could be worth 5 points in the standings. That could easily be the difference between a 3 seed and a 5 seed.

Also, the difference between the 7 seed and the 10th seed is rarely 15 points. At most, the difference is 8 points.

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03-23-2017, 01:10 PM
  #66
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just imagine if the Rangers get to the final because they had an easy route...there will be so much crying and whining that your computer will short circuit from the watery tears

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03-23-2017, 01:11 PM
  #67
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Except that doesn't fundamentally work.

Why should the Rangers and Penguins play five times while the Senators play the same teams three times?

Senators also get Buffalo and Detroit four or five times.

You're giving teams an unfair advantage. The difference in the standings is so small these days, that a three game swing against easier opposition could be worth 5 points in the standings. That could easily be the difference between a 3 seed and a 5 seed.
IMO, I don't think the advantage is as big as you say it is. We're talking about a 82 game schedule. Also how strong teams are fluctuates over the years. In the future, which team is stronger can change as building/re-building cycles shift.

The other options is to go to a strict 1-8 and have a conference centric schedule. This of course would increase travel.

Either way . either of these options is infinitely better than what we have now.

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03-23-2017, 01:22 PM
  #68
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Except that doesn't fundamentally work.

Why should the Rangers and Penguins play five times while the Senators play the same teams three times?

Senators also get Buffalo and Detroit four or five times.

You're giving teams an unfair advantage. The difference in the standings is so small these days, that a three game swing against easier opposition could be worth 5 points in the standings. That could easily be the difference between a 3 seed and a 5 seed.

Also, the difference between the 7 seed and the 10th seed is rarely 15 points. At most, the difference is 8 points.


http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/standings#/conference

EAST:

7. NYR 94 points
10. TB 77 points

Thats a 17 point difference. I will be generous and give TB wins for the 2 games they have in hand - thats still 13 points.

And in the west the difference between the Jets and Flames is also 13 points. The selfish Jets fan in me likes that, but I concede its not too fair for Calgary.


Yes I know the different scheduling matrix could affect the gap but I don't think it would be as substantial as many would think.

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03-23-2017, 01:25 PM
  #69
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The current format is absolutely horrible and one of the worst play-off formats in the history of Sports. The whole rivalry thing is stupid. Trying to artificially create rivalries is stupid. Rivalries happen when they happen. Remember Detroit/Colorado in the 90s? - not even in the same division . Circumstances creates rivalries not sheer repetition. It's organic. Everyone here in Winnipeg is trying really really hard to manifest a rivalry with Minnesota but I would argue the Jets have more of rivalry with the Pens right now than with the Wild. Why? Maybe because the Wild play a very discipline, boring (and effective) style that doesn't really lend itself to muster up a rivalry with anyone. Sheer repetition doesn't necessarily create more rivalries.
The rivalry thing isn't why they changed the format. They may say that as a justification, but if the Thrashers don't move to Winnipeg, neither the alignment or playoff format would've changed from what it was. But since Winnipeg got a team back, and nobody could agree on which one team would move east to replace them, and Minnesota and Dallas were in bad logistical divisions, everything got thrown out and re-done.

Quote:
And then there is this disparity with the Match-ups in the East that is well documented this year and will invariably happen yearly. I don't want to see the same teams play each other over and over and over and over and over again. I don't want to see Groundhog Day Hockey.
Of the 42 east and west playoff series played under the current format, 13, or 31%, have been the same. Most likely more than in over any 3 year period in a 1-8 format, but not a Groundhog Day issue. In the 1st round, 24 series have been played, with 8 repeats in the 1st round from any of the 3 seasons, which is 33%. Two of those series, Det/TB, and Pit/NYR, were in consecutive seasons. Chi/StL, and SJ/LA had a year in between.

We'll see what happens this year, but the entire 1st round has the chance to be different than last year. Maybe even entirely different from 2014 and 2015 too, depending on how things shake out.

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03-23-2017, 01:26 PM
  #70
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And in the west the difference between the Jets and Flames is also 13 points. The selfish Jets fan in me likes that, but I concede its not too fair for Calgary.
How is it not fair? The whole point of the playoffs is that once you're in, the prior 82 games mean nothing.

It seems fair that if Calgary wants to advance past the Jets, they should beat the Jets.

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03-23-2017, 01:28 PM
  #71
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just imagine if the Rangers get to the final because they had an easy route...there will be so much crying and whining that your computer will short circuit from the watery tears
Imagine if the Rangers lose in the 1st against an easier opponent in a worse division. They will have taken it easy for nothing.

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03-23-2017, 01:32 PM
  #72
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Was talking to my brother about this, the solution is simple.

Two Divisions
Two Wildcard Spots per division, because the crossover stuff is cool, they are in places 7-8
One Division leader per division, they are in placed 1-2, and they will go against 7-8 teams
Reseed the remaining teams (3-6)
2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds you re-seed

If you want to really make it interesting, make the last wildcard spot a "wildcard weekend" sort of thing like the MLB does--have the 8th and 9th place teams play a wildcard championship game, winner gets the 2WC position

The pure divisional format is cool, but the imbalance of the top teams in the entire league playing eachother in the first round is an utter joke. The fact that one of the Penguins, Capitals, or Blue Jackets (whoever ends up in the 2 and 3 seeds) will be out in the first round because they had to play eachother is bogus no matter how you slice it.

I'm saying this a Rangers fan, (where we're locking into the 1WC spot and I'm fully expecting them to lose in the 1st round), it's complete and utter crap on one of those three division rivals teams' end because one of them is going to get royally screwed.


Last edited by TheTakedown: 03-23-2017 at 01:46 PM.
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03-23-2017, 01:42 PM
  #73
NCRanger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetsfan79 View Post
[/B]

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/standings#/conference

EAST:

7. NYR 94 points
10. TB 77 points

Thats a 17 point difference. I will be generous and give TB wins for the 2 games they have in hand - thats still 13 points.

And in the west the difference between the Jets and Flames is also 13 points. The selfish Jets fan in me likes that, but I concede its not too fair for Calgary.

Yes I know the different scheduling matrix could affect the gap but I don't think it would be as substantial as many would think.
Except the Rangers aren't 7th - Toronto is with 83 points.

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03-23-2017, 02:17 PM
  #74
Jetsfan79
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
How is it not fair? The whole point of the playoffs is that once you're in, the prior 82 games mean nothing.

It seems fair that if Calgary wants to advance past the Jets, they should beat the Jets.
A one day single game elimination while may technically be a play-off game, many would consider it a bonus game after the regular season that decides who makes the "16" teams of play-offs. The idea is a team that is ranked 3 times higher than the other shouldn't have to put their entire season on the line in one game. Especially in a free floating game like hockey where a hot backup goalie can win you a game. Now I'm not totally against the play-in idea. I think i may be ok with a 8-9 play-in as the gap between 8 and 9 shouldnt be as large.


Last edited by Jetsfan79: 03-23-2017 at 02:24 PM.
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03-23-2017, 02:22 PM
  #75
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Originally Posted by KingsFan7824 View Post
Imagine if the Rangers lose in the 1st against an easier opponent in a worse division. They will have taken it easy for nothing.
Check Lunqvist's splits vs the Habs... I don't think they want that.

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