Spring & Playoff Hockey Are In The Air

March 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

We’re halfway through March and playoff hockey is on my mind.  I was listening to NHL Home Ice’s show ‘The Power Play’ in my car yesterday (with the windows down and the fresh spring breeze in my face!) and the two hosts, Scott Laughlin and Phil Esposito, were musing about something I’d never really considered before.  They were tossing around the “what-if” idea of the NHL going to a 1-16 playoff format.  For those of you unfamiliar with the NHL, right now they have two conferences (East & West) and the top 8 teams in each make the playoffs, in a 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. format.  So what they were saying was the 1st overall seed would play the 16th-seeded team, and etc.  This totally intrigued me.  For some reason, I have never thought about it before. 

My first impression: I liked the idea.  Loving hockey the way I do (enough of a fan to play fantasy hockey, let’s put it that way), I am always disappointed that I don’t get to see the Western teams play mine more often.  I understand the logistics of it, but still…  I would love to see the teams out there playing East teams in the first few rounds, not just the best team from the West in the Finals.  I also like the idea of rivalries forming between East/West teams, something that I personally don’t really see right now.  I love a good Penguins/Flyers or Penguins/Capitals matchup, simply because it’s so much fun to hate on other teams as a sports fan.  The only team in the West I hate like that is Detroit and that’s definitely because of the 2-years-in-a-row Stanley Cup Finals between the Pens and Wings.  Rivalries get made during the playoffs.  Everything, every little thing, matters more in playoff games.  Someone throws hard hits on the boards, a goaltender gets bulldozed in the crease, somebody runs their mouth all game long, fingers get bitten (!)… when it happens during playoffs, it sticks in everyone’s mind.  Maybe I’m just crazy but I think playing a 1-16 format would accomplish that, at least more than it happens now.  And my final point, which was also made by Phil Esposito so I guess it’s really his point that I agree with, is about points.  Points in the standings, I mean.  It’s already crazy in the NHL, how those last few weeks of the season can completely change your playoff standing.  If you’re on the edge of making the playoffs, you know how crucial every single point is.  How insane and fun would it be as a fan to watch even more teams battle it out for those last few spots?  I don’t know if I’m explaining that clearly, I wish I could just quote whatever it was Espo said, because I loved it. 

What are your thoughts on the idea of a 1 vs 16 playoff setup?

A final quick thought, this one on NHL/AHL hockey.  I’ve always said I’m so glad I live in a city with an AHL team.  I can afford to have season tickets (although right now I’m going with a half-season plan, due to being a busy socialite) and get to see a ton of young talent on the ice.  Phil Esposito does the radio color commentary for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL, and their AHL affiliate is the Norfolk Admirals.  I see Norfolk play a lot, because they’re in the same division as my team, the WBS Penguins.   So yesterday Phil was talking about young players and AHL talent and he mentioned Cory Conacher on the Admirals.  I immediately thought to myself, “Oh yeah Conacher, he’s a speedy little devil.”  The last game I was at, we played Norfolk, and Conacher was zooming up and down the ice.  So anyway, Phil goes on to say something like, “He’s a real swift skater.”  And I gave myself a mental high five.  It’s always nice to know that you’re seeing what the professionals are seeing.  That’s all, really, I just wanted to make sure everyone who reads my blog knows that Espo and I are en rapport.  😀

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§ One Response to Spring & Playoff Hockey Are In The Air

  • Andrew G says:

    I’m not a huge fan of seeding 1-16 for many reasons:

    * To start, there are the obvious logistical issues. With teams traveling longer distances to play opponents, games 5-7 could become a nightmare.

    * I do feel winning your division should be rewarded, but doesn’t it feel unfair when a team like the pens this year (with the second best record in the east) are relegated to the 4 seed? Now image a 1-16 seeding. The pens are currently fifth in points, but could climb as high as third due to games in hand. Instead of earning the 3 spot, the pens would fall all the way to 7 due to division winners getting priority. Brutal.

    * If your hope is to create new East vs West rivalries, the odds of teams playing each other from year to year are worse because you’re drawing from a pool of 16. Plus, you’re weakening your already existing playoff rivalries for the same reason, a larger pool of teams in the draw. We have plenty of existing, deep-seeded rivalries, which is one of the reasons the league is in such a good place right now. Why tamper with that?

    Although I am a bit concerned about over-saturating those existing rivalries with familiar teams playing each other a bit too often, I’m a much bigger proponent of the proposed realignment and the new playoff format that would bring to the table.

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