The NHL changed their playoff format from the conference playoff format to the divisional playoff format in 2013 and every year there seems to be some complaints about it. The latest was Brad Marchand after the Bruins Thursday night loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
“I don’t think it’s fair that one team would finish second (in the NHL) and have to play a third or fourth place team, compared to a seventh-place team,” Marchand told reporters after the game. “But, if you’re going to get to a Stanley Cup you’ve got to get through your whole Conference anyway.”
Marchand definitely isn’t wrong. It’s bullshit the Bruins are going to have to go through Toronto to advance in the playoffs. If the NHL still used the old format, the Bruins would be the #2 seed and would be facing the Carolina Hurricanes.
Now, the Hurricanes season has been fun and all. But you have never watched a game of hockey if you’d rather play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round over the Carolina Hurricanes.
At the same time, the Bruins aren’t the only team that has to deal with this. If the season ended today the Islanders would play the Pittsburgh Penguins. I can’t imagine Frankie Borrelli and Islanders fans will be too confident with Sidney Crosby coming into the Coliseum for a playoff series.
If it was the old format we would get Isles-Leafs in the first round and that would just be great for everyone.
Long story short, everyone is going to get fucked by this format at one point or another. As a fan, I love seeing the divisional rivalry matchups. I also feel like the first round of the playoffs is always the best round too. But I can see where the players are coming from, they grind all season to put themselves in a good playoff position only to have to play one of the best teams in the NHL the first round.