NHL sticks with playoff format through 2019-20

The NHL and NHL Players Association on Wednesday agreed to extend the current
configuration through the 2019-20 season, according to a report by TSN’s
Pierre LeBrun.

“The matter will continue to be discussed between the two sides moving
forward,” LeBrun wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “So earliest change would be for 2020-21 if/when there is change.”

The format that has existed since the 2013-14 season — when the NHL realigned
to a four-division setup — hasn’t exactly caught on with fans of competitive
teams that get matched up unfairly. The NHL sends the top three teams from
each division to the playoffs, along with two wild-card teams from each
conference. The playoffs begin with the second- and third-place teams from
each division facing each other.

For instance, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs — two of the top four
teams in the Eastern Conference in 2018-19 — are second and third,
respectively, in the Atlantic Division, behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who
lead the NHL with 124 points.

“What you’re grinding 82 games for during a season is to finish as high as you
can so you can have that advantage come playoffs,” Lightning captain Steven
Stamkos told TSN.

“I don’t think that’s an advantage to Toronto or Boston to be what could be
the top three teams in the whole league in one division and then have to play
that team in the first round. I don’t think that’s right. … It is what it
is. You can’t change it now, but I don’t think it’s the most fair in terms of
why you play and the advantage you’re supposed to have come playoff time.”

Suggestions outside the league have been made to simplify the system by
seeding the top eight teams from each conference by their regular-season
records.

–Field Level Media

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