Why do you gotta make things so difficult Mr. Bettman? Okay maybe it’s not all his fault but c’mon you can’t tell me the wild card format is better than the simple top 8 teams from each conference move on. Since 2013, the NHL has used the wild card playoff format and these past couple of seasons have proven how brainless that decision was. My knowledge on the divisions is skewed because the Leafs plays in the East but I know for a fact that the Metropolitan division is stacked! I mean listen to these teams: New Jersey (currently leads Metro), Columbus, Washington, New York Islanders and Rangers, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia.
They literally do not have a bad team in their division but they are only allowed to send a maximum of 5 teams to the playoffs. If the playoffs started today the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins would not even make it! Given they are not having the greatest season, it is still set up terribly for their chances. Earlier this season the 3rd place team in the Atlantic could not even hold up with a bottom half team in the Metropolitan but with the resurgence of the Boston Bruins, the top 3 in the Atlantic has now become a complete battle. Go LEAFS! From there, shit hits the fan. We have Montreal, Florida, Detroit, Ottawa and then Buffalo all with less points than EVERY team in the Metro division. I mean c’mon somethings wrong here, lets make things more competitive. We don’t have to drop the divisions completely but if you’re a top 8 team in your conference, you should be in the playoffs, no question.
Let’s move over to the Western Conference and please bear with me because I rarely check this side of the standings… Alright so these divisions seem a little more evened out here, with the Central having the slight edge but I am sure people would have thought the Pacific was going to be the tougher division. But lets be honest, no one expected Vegas to be leading that division almost 40 games in and Edmonton to fall off the radar. The wild card race in the West is a lot tighter as well with 3 teams sitting at 39 points and another sitting at 40. I mean almost everyone in the West has a chance to make moves for the wild card, except Arizona of course, they are an absolute dumpster fire.
I have also heard some arguments that the league should just drop the conferences completely and have the top 16 teams in the NHL make the playoffs. Lets look at how those matchups would play out today: Tampa Bay vs. Carolina / Nashville vs. New York ( R ) / New Jersey vs. San Jose / Vegas vs. Dallas / Los Angeles vs. New York ( I ) / St. Louis vs. Toronto / Columbus vs. Boston / Washington vs. Winnipeg. I mean I wouldn’t complain about any of these matchups because at the end of the day, it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs and ANYTHING can happen. Another thing to notice, no Pittsburgh, Minnesota or Chicago and my god wouldn’t that be a nice change to see some new teams stir it up on their way to the hardest trophy to win in sport. Don’t bug out, just the facts.