Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 11/24/13 at 05:05 AM ET
The New York Post's Larry Brooks seems to have something in common with the league's general managers: a bit of sticker shock regarding the NHL's "new" divisional playoff format's quirks:
[As] it stood following Friday night’s games, the hybrid divisional format would guarantee either the team with the East’s seventh- or eighth-best record advances to the second round, while the club with either the conference’s third or fourth best record is knocked out.
To refresh your memory: 1. The top three teams from each division qualify; 2. The two teams with the next best records within the conference qualify as wild cards; 3. The division winner with the most points plays the wild card with the fewest points in the first round while the other division winner plays the other wild card; 4. The second- and third-place teams within each division meet in the first round; 5. Divisional brackets apply to the second round.
So, in likely the earliest “If the playoffs began …” scenario on record, the East’s first round would be: Pittsburgh (30 points) vs. Montreal (26); Boston (30) vs. Detroit (27); Tampa Bay (29) vs. Toronto (27); Washington (25) vs. Devils (23).
Hence, either the seventh-place Capitals or eighth-place Devils would advance while either the third-place Lightning or fourth-place Maple Leafs would be one-and-done.
A team, therefore, is theoretically better served by being the second- (or third-) place team in a weak division than by finishing with the conference’s best record.
Continued with schedule grumbles, Michael Del Zotto talk, etc.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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