It is time for the NHL to change the playoff format into something that makes sense. This silly division and wildcard format makes virtually no sense and is just going to hurt the league in the long term and turn fans off the product.
If the season ended today, the Eastern Conference playoffs would look like this:
NY Islanders @ Tampa
NJ @ Caps
Toronto @ Boston
Philly @ Pitts
But if the league followed the more traditional 1st v 8th, 2nd v 7th etc, then we would see a play off format that is far more balanced. Here is what the playoffs would look like if we used that system and the league ended today:
NY Islanders @ Tampa
NJ @ Boston
Philly @ Tor
Pitts @ Wash
The Islanders and Tampa stays the same, but every other match up changes. Boston play New Jersey – a more fitting reward for a team that finished second in the conference. Toronto gets Philadelphia with home ice rather than playing the Bruins without that advantage. Washington would have to face Pittsburgh in a harder match-up than the Devils, but they are the conferences fourth best team – yet they are currently being treated as the second best.
The current format leaves the Bruins and Leafs to face each other when they are ranked #2 and #3 in the whole conference. It does not make any sense.
If we just removed the divisions and played with two conferences instead then we would end up with a balanced playoff format. The divisions are kinda stupid anyway since the Canadian teams are lumbered with the Florida teams.
In removing divisions and just having the top eight play each other then we would not end up with a situation like we have at the moment with the Atlantic division whereby the Leafs, Bruins and Lightning have been essentially locked in the playoffs since December.
The NHL is clamouring to grow the game – but it has a playoff format that is more likely to confuse fans and put them off the product.
If I was a GM I would be looking at ways to correct the current system that has never worked since it was introduced.
What do you think? Is the current system working?