The National Hockey League's playoff system has a major flaw and this may be the final year we'll be experiencing it.
If a team wins its division, it automatically takes a top-three seed. Because of this, weak teams from divisions like the Southeast and the Pacific get to host playoff series in the first round.
Currently, the Los Angeles Kings lead the Pacific Division and have the No. 3 seed in the West despite owning the sixth-best record in the conference. Because of this, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a great position. They'd be playing the Kings in the first round if the season ended today.
Well, it seems like Detroit is catching on.
With the St. Louis Blues running away with the division, the Red Wings now find themselves just two points ahead of the No. 6 Blackhawks.
Chicago has been hot lately and Detroit really hasn't been. They've won just five games since the beginning of March.
So does it make sense for them to continue to lose games, including their finale against the Blackhawks, so they play against the Pacific Division champion rather than the Predators or Hawks?
Sure, it's not the honorable thing to do, but the NHL really needs to change their playoff setup or else teams can just lose games in order to get favorable playoff matchups.
It makes no sense for the Red Wings to continue to win games at this point. Why would they want to play Nashville or Chicago? They can get an easier series against Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas or San Jose. If they win that series, they'll likely play against St. Louis in the second round, which, let's be honest, might be a better draw than Vancouver despite the Blues' superior record.
The Red Wings will probably continue to play hard in the next two games, but if they find that they can get the No. 6 seed if Chicago beats them on Saturday, then why not throw away that game?
Some teams probably won't like that, but as the old saying goes, "Don't hate the player, hate the game."
Perhaps the Red Wings can make a statement by losing intentionally in order to get the playoff system changed for next season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!