The NHL Playoff Format: Time To Re-seed

Kevin van Steendelaar@@LeTirEtLeButAnalyst IFebruary 5, 2009

t's a simple thing in the NHL—if you win your respective division, you are guaranteed a top-three playoff seeding and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

It doesn't matter if two or more other teams have better records. You're in!

Last season is an excellent example: The Washington Capitals won the Southeast Division with 94 points. They earned the number three seed, but in overall points only ranked sixth. By comparison, the Carolina Hurricanes finished second in the division with 92 points and finished out of the playoffs. Not that it mattered in this case, but the Capitals also earned home-ice advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Maybe it's time the NHL looks at a better, more level playoff format. In other words, take a page from the NBA.

The NBA, like the NHL, has eight teams in each conference that qualify for the playoffs.

However, the three division winners, and the team with the next best overall record, are ranked one to four by points.

Secondly, the team with the better record overall in the regular season gets home advantage in the first round.

With that in mind, here are the playoff seeds for the last two full seasons, reconfigured to this format:

2007-08 Re-seeded Playoff Rankings

Eastern Conference

1. x- Montreal       104

2. x- Pittsburgh     102

3. New  Jersey      99

4. x- Washington   94

5. New York          97

6. Philadelphia

7. Ottawa

8. Boston

In this format, Washington slips to the fourth seed and would have also lost home-ice advantage to the New York Rangers based on points.

Western Conference

1. x- Detroit         115

2. x- San Jose      108

3. Anaheim           102

4. x- Minnesota     98

5. Dallas

6. Colorado

7. Calgary

8. Nashville

Anaheim and Minnesota switch seeds.

2006-07 Re-seeded Playoff Rankings

Eastern Conference

1. x- Buffalo        113

2. x- New Jersey  107

3. Ottawa           105

4. x- Atlanta        97

5. Pittsburgh        105

6. NY Rangers

7. Tampa Bay

8. NY Islanders

Atlanta becomes the number four seed. Pittsburgh would have been their first-round opponents and had home-ice advantage.

Western Conference

1. x- Detroit       113

2. Nashville         110

3. x- Anaheim      110

4. x- Vancouver   105

5. San Jose         107

6. Dallas

7. Minnesota

8. Calgary

Nashville earns the second seed based on the NHL tie-breaker for wins (51 to 48). The Canucks would have slipped to fourth, facing the Sharks, who would have had home-ice advantage.

The NBA also uses the bracket format.

For example, the winner of No. 1 vs. No. 8 plays the winner of No. 4 vs. No. 5. The NHL re-seeds the remaining teams based on their regular season records and division winners.

So ,should Commissioner Gary Bettman and the League's Governors consider this format?

Well, that's up to them to decide.

But want do the fans think? Keep in mind anything does, and will, happen in the playoffs.


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