Hockey Fans Upset: Top Four Teams Meeting In Second Round

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The top four teams in the NHL will face each other in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is great for people who want to watch the best teams play each other. However, some fans are upset about the teams meeting this early because it means two of the best teams in the NHL will be eliminated before the Conference Finals, significantly altering NHL online sports betting odds.

In the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals, who had the best record in the regular season, will face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who finished with the second best record in the East. On the other side of the bracket, the New York Islanders, who had the 10th best record, will be playing the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had the 12th best record.

In the Western Conference, the top seeded Dallas Stars will be playing the second seeded St. Louis Blues, while the 11th seeded San Jose Sharks will be playing the 14th seeded Nashville Predators.

A lot of NHL fans are upset with the new playoff seeding system because some less deserving teams will have an easier road to the Stanley Cup finals than teams that worked hard to get top seeding in the playoffs.

Some fans want the league to either bring back the old playoff format which seeded the teams in each conference by their record, with the top seeded team playing the eighth seeded team, then playing the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup in the next round.

The old playoff format is the same that is used in the NBA, and it usually has the best teams playing each other barring an upset in the previous rounds.

Another format that fans have been floating around is the format used in the 1980 playoffs, which ranked the teams from both conferences by their record, pitting the top ranked team against the 16th ranked team in the first round, then the top ranked team vs. the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup in the next round.

This format is similar to the format used in the NCAA tournament, and seems like the fairest way to seed playoff teams.

The problem with these playoff format selections is the fans who are upset about their team’s seeding or their team losing earlier than expected would still complain about the format. The proof of that is the fact that the format has been changed numerous times due to fan complaints.

While the second format sounds good, it would be a geographical nightmare for the NHL if teams have to travel across the country during every playoff round. Yes, teams these days have jets that take their players everywhere, but the travelling will still take a toll on the players and affect the product on the ice.

Another problem with the complaints people have about the current playoff format is the fact that the teams that are left in the playoffs earned the right to be there.

You can complain all you want about the Islanders playing the Lightning or the Sharks playing the Predators but you have to remember that New York defeated the top seeded Panthers to advance to this stage. The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks, who had the third best record in the West, and the San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings to advance to the next round.