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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Proposal For NHL Playoffs

Since the NHL went to this six division format with the guaranteed 1-3 seed for the division winners, I have felt like there was a thorn in my side. Especially from last season's final results.

Before I get into this proposal of ideas, I would like to send out a heart felt thought to Florida Panthers winger, Richard Zednik. As I am sure you are all aware, Zednik's carotid artery was severed when Olli Jokinen's skate came up after being hit. If you haven't seen this gruesome event click this link to a YouTube clip. I am warning you now, if you have a weak stomach do not watch this.

Anyway, Richard get well soon and I hope to see you back on the ice in the near future.

As you can all probably tell from previous posts, I am a Penguins fan. Last season they finished tied with Ottawa with 105 points. Due to tiebreakers the Pens ended up as the 5-seed while Ottawa got the 4-seed. That's fine and dandy, but if you look at who got the 3-seed you can see why this is a little irritating.

The Atlanta Thrashers won the division with a whopping 97 points, which was good enough for what should have been the 6-seed. Now I'm not sore over the Pens being kicked around in a five game series with the eventual Eastern Conference champs because I finally didn't have to worry about people making wise cracks at me in my Pens apparel walking down the street.

What annoyed me was that the Thrashers were handed the 3-seed. The New York Rangers earned the 6-seed and basically a first round bye by playing Atlanta. If you'll recall, the Rangers swept the Thrashers in what was probably the worst series of the entire playoffs.

I have a proposal and will show examples of this as I go along.

Part 1

I am comfortable with the division leaders being given a playoff spot. I am not comfortable however with them being given a 1-3 seed just for winning the division when there are other teams with more points. Here's how the standings looked at the end of last season.

1. Buffalo - 113 Points
2. New Jersey - 107
3. Atlanta - 97
4. Ottawa - 105
5. Pittsburgh 105
6. New York Rangers - 94
7. Tampa Bay - 93
8. New York Islanders - 92

I propose that the teams with higher point totals move up in the standings over division leaders if it is possible. To illustrate this point, here's how the final standings would have looked if my method was in place. The changes are in bold.

1. Buffalo - 113 Points
2. New Jersey - 107
3. Ottawa - 105
4. Pittsburgh 105
5. Atlanta - 97

6. New York Rangers - 94
7. Tampa Bay - 93
8. New York Islanders - 92

This would have resulted in the Penguins having home ice against Atlanta in a series they most likely would have won, while Ottawa would have had a tough time with the Rangers but probably would have still won in 6 games.

This isn't much of a tweak and does not have any major issues unless you have a situation we are fast approaching in the Eastern Conference this season once again involving the Southeast Division.

Part 2

As I am writing this after all the games have concluded on Feb. 12, 2008, the Carolina Hurricanes are the 3-seed with 60 points. The Boston Bruins are the 9-seed with 61 points.

Now I know what you're thinking, "you just said you were fine with division winners getting into the playoffs so what now smarty pants?"

I'm glad you asked because I thought about this at length and discussed this with Gopher.

I propose a play in game in this situation. A winner take all qualifying game where the winner gets the right to play the 1-seed.

If the season ended today, here's how I would picture this going down.

On the day after the end of the regular season, Boston would travel to Carolina and play one game. Winner gets into the playoffs. Simple as that. The reason Carolina gets home ice in this game is as a reward for winning the Southeast Division.

In the event that the nine and 10 seeds have higher records than a division leader, normal tie breaker procedures would apply to determine the 9-seed who would travel to the 3-seed's barn for the play-in game.

Part 3

I propose a 3-2-1 point system for the regular season. I, for one, am tired of seeing teams like New Jersey play for overtime just to avoid losing in regulation and as a result getting zero points in the standings.

What I would do is award three points for a regulation win. This gives teams more of an incentive to go for it in regulation. This would also make the playoff race more exciting to watch.

I would then award two points for wins in overtime or a shootout. I am a big fan of the shootout. Knowing that two points will be awarded at the end of every game is a great thing as a fan, especially if you know you have a good goalie and a couple of guys who can dazzle on breakaways.

Lastly, I would still award one point to teams that lose in overtime or a shootout. I feel that if you get to overtime you deserve at least one point, but teams should be rewarded for winning games in regulation.

I know none of these ideas will ever actually be put into action, but if a league official sees any of this and gets it voted on and it passes...I want the credit. This site has a time stamp for a reason and I could always use the publicity.

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for more soon.

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