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NHL Playoffs Seeding: What's The Point Of Winning In The Regular Season?

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EDITOR"S NOTE: Great first post here SecondCitySabre, and thank you for writing. You have raised some very good points here regarding the NHL playoff pairing system.

Greetings, and welcome to my first post. As you can infer from my username, I currently reside in the greater Chicagoland area. I grew up in Lockport and as fate would have I still live there – only in Illinois not New York. Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to watch the Hawks rise from the ashes and win three championships and look forward to my beloved Sabres repeating that feat.

As an avid follower of DBTB, I am surprised no one has commented on the "unique" way the NHL goes about seeding their playoff tournament. I use the work "unique" because it seems inappropriate to use profanity in my very first article. Before I dive into the details, please understand, I am not crying because Chicago had to play St. Louis in round one, instead of San Jose – I am just at a loss as to how or why the NHL thinks the current system is the best way to crown a champion.

First let’s look at the final regular season standing for each Conference (source is NHL.com):

East: 1. Washington Capitals (120), 2. Pittsburgh Penguins (104), 3. Florida Panthers (103), 4. New York Rangers (101), 5. New York Islanders (100), 6. Tampa Bay Lightning (97), 7. Philadelphia Flyers (96), 8. Detroit Red Wings (93)

West: 1. Dallas Stars (109), 2. St. Louis Blues(107), 3. Chicago Blackhawks(103), 4. Anaheim Ducks (103), 5. Los Angeles Kings (102), 6. San Jose Sharks (98), 7. Nashville Predators (96), 8. Minnesota Wild (87)

Under the "Divisional" Playoff system the NHL currently employs here were the match ups in Round one:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Round One (Actual)

Seed

Round One (Actual)

Seed

Florida vs Islanders

3vs5

Dallas vs Minnesota

1vs8

Tampa Bay vs Detroit

6vs8

St Louis vs Chicago

2vs3

Washington vs Philadelphia

1vs7

Anaheim vs Nashville

4vs7

Pittsburgh vs Rangers

2vs4

Los Angeles vs San Jose

5vs6

The good news is that Dallas vs. Minnesota is actually a 1 vs 8 seed and Washington vs. Philly is close enough (1 vs7).

The bad: just about everything else! Come on, 6 vs 8 for the right to move on while numbers 2 and 4 duke it out in the East – really?? – anybody think this is how you reward a successful regular season?

Now take a look at a "Traditional" 1 vs 8 and so on seeding:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Round One (Proposed)

Round One (Proposed)

Washington vs Detroit

Dallas vs Minnesota

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

St Louis vs Nashville

Florida vs Tampa Bay

Chicago vs San Jose

Rangers vs Islanders

Anaheim vs Los Angeles

Let see, other than rewarding the best regular season performance with "easier" opponents (oh, and home ice), look at the regional rivalries – especially in the East. Pitt, Philly; Florida, Tampa and Rangers Islanders. Washington, Detroit? Nope not a rivalry, but the Caps get a reward in round one for finishing 27 points better than their opponent. Out West, Anaheim, LA looks good as does (oh, know! it can’t be – division rivals playing against each other, be still my beating heart) Dallas, Minny and St Louis, Nashville. Blackhawks get home ice, but they and the Sharks have to do the long commute – oh, well, suck it up boys.

Well, we can’t change the past, we can long for what could have been, but was not meant to be – On to Round Two!

Here is what the NHL offered us in the Conference Semi-Finals:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Round Two (Actual)

Seed

Round Two (Actual)

Seed

Islanders vs Tampa Bay

5vs6

Dallas vs St Louis

1vs2

Washington vs Pittsburgh

1vs2

San Jose vs Nashville

6vs7

Yes, you are reading that correctly, the NHL in its infinite wisdom gave us what everybody wants – the number 1 and 2 seeds in BOTH conferences battling to the death to see who will get to play for Lord Stanley’s silver chalice! Oh, wait, these are the Conference SEMI-FINALS, ah, nevermind . . . That’s right, while numbers 1 & 2 battle it out, numbers 5, 6 & 7 battle on the other side of the bracket praying the big boys each go 7 games.

I know you have already figured out what the seedings should have been, but here is a graphic:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Round Two

Round Two

Washington vs Islanders

Dallas vs Nashville

Pittsburgh vs Tampa Bay

St Louis vs San Jose

No real rivalries, save for Dallas, Nashville, but you do reward the best regular season teams with home ice against inferior opponents. You also set the stage for the top seeds in both conference making it to the finals – and isn’t that what the league should be trying to do?

Think about this, Washington finished with 23 more points that Tampa, yet they are home and Tampa moves on having dispatched the 8th and 5th best teams. Here in Chicago, there was talk of having the Blackhawks "tank" the end of the season – at one point Nashville closed within 3 points – just so they could open on the road as the #1WC out West and get away from the meat-grinder that is the Central.

One last point, I know Tampa and San Jose can close out their series with victories over higher seeded opponents, but the story might be different if Tampa had to play Florida, Pittsburgh and then Washington to get out of the East and San Jose had to play Chicago, St Louis and Dallas to get out of the West.

Thanks for reading!

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.