Now that the Sabres are out of the playoffs, we can sort of take a step back and enjoy the playoffs from an outsider's perspective. A few articles have surfaced in the last two days suggesting new or revised ways for the NHL to restructure the playoffs.
The first comes from Jeff Paterson from straight.com who suggests the NHL follow the lead of the NBDL and have the top four seeded teams in each conference pick their opponent in the first round. The first seed would be able to choose from seeds 5-8, then the second and third seeds have their choice with the fourth seed left with who ever wasn't chosen. This gives more meaning to being a second or third seed because it gives a better chance at picking your opponent.
It also leaves a dynamic in how teams will pick their first round opponent. Does a team pick based on record over the course of the regular season or does a team pick based on other factors like revenue from the games or travel.
The second choice comes from Jason Kay at The Hockey News who supports a divisional playoff based on the former Patrick and Wales conference setup in the 70's and 80's. The top four teams from each conference would play each other in the first and second rounds and then the winners would move onto the conference finals and Stanley Cup.
This format makes sense in the fact that the NHL has already used it and it proved some success in the past. It would create the bigger division rivals that the league was looking for heading out of the lockout and it would give the teams a bigger chance I feel of making the playoffs. There would be less teams to compete with to make the playoffs and it would put more emphasis on those divison ganes.
The main question is whether the playoffs should be changed or not. The current format creates good series that are compelling for the main television audience. but could these new formats create better matchups in the first round and lead to a better overall playoff experience.