New Playoff Format Explained…Again

Over the course of the last few weeks there’s no question I’ve received more than how the new playoff format works. This video by the NHL does pretty good job of explaining it…

Here’s the written explanation (via NHL.com)…

“The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season record and regardless of division. It is possible for one division in each conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.

In the First Round, the division winner with the best record in each conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other division winner.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will meet in the First Round within the bracket headed by their respective division winners. First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round to determine the four participants in the Conference Finals.”

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s the current Eastern Conference standings…



So, if the season ended today, here’s what the first round match-ups would look like…



…and we’re already seeing a major flaw in the new playoff system. Somehow, despite the Metro Division leading Penguins having 12 more points than the second place Rangers, if the season ended today, they would be playing a Red Wings team with more points than the Flyers team the Blueshirts would be matched-up against. While I’d love for nothing more than the Penguins getting royally screwed, how the hell is that fair?

…it’s almost like having a conference with two more teams. Oh wait…


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