The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoff format has come under scrutiny this postseason, and rightfully so.
You had a 108-point Columbus Blue Jackets team playing a 111-point Pittsburgh Penguins team, when in a conference format they would have played the Rangers and Senators instead. You have a 106-point Minnesota Wild team drawing the 99-point St. Louis Blues, rather than the San Jose Sharks.
(Keep in mind that even in the old format, the division winners get the top two seeds.)
Some players have grumbled about it, like Zach Parise of the Wild, who prefers the conference format and dislikes the bracketed system. “It’s going to sound like I’m complaining now, but I do like the old way better, because one division could have a lot more points than the other division,” Parise told the Twin Cities. “You might not get an advantage for finishing second or third, or you might lose your home ice.”
So some players aren’t happy. The fans, by and large, are in favor of a more equitable system.
Is the NHL considering a change?
“We’re not looking at changing it,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said, via the Columbus Dispatch. “Anything could get changed by a vote of the Board of Governors, but it’s not anything anyone is considering right now.”
In the end, the NHL is happy with the wild card format that’s been in place since 2013-14. Not only because it forces rivalry series that television loves – like the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets – but because Bettman feels that finishing first and playing the “worst” team in the playoff seeding isn’t always a huge benefit.
“The competitive balance is so intense, you can easily, and we’ve seen it many times, see an eighth seed beat a first seed. Just because you’re matched up in a way where on paper one team should win over another, the fact of the matter is that there’s a reason we play the games,” he told Fox Sports Ohio.
He said it’s also “working very well” to keep playoff races tight in the regular season.
Are you happy with the playoff format? If not, what needs to change?
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS