Battles of the best happen too early for some under NHL playoff format

Bulls of the Week

If you’re one of those hockey fans who aren’t crazy about the NHL’s playoff format, you’re not the only one.

More than one general manager and many players don’t like it because it can work against strong teams when there happens to be a cluster of good ones in the same division. Yet that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.

The playoff structure that draws complaints from some corners is working the way alignment should work; fuelling ticket sales, bullish TV and sports talk radio audiences, social media growth and overall fan engagement.

The key is that it’s having a bullish impact on both the regular season and playoffs. The regular season has more edge to it given the geographic rivalries that only heat up in each division. Social tracking reveals scoreboard watching is at an all-time high.

Critics point out that one of Winnipeg and Nashville — the top two teams in the Central Division and two of the top four teams in the Western Conference — will be out after the second round for the second consecutive year. And that at least two of the top three teams in the Atlantic and two of the top four in the east — Tampa Bay, Boston, Washington and Toronto — will suffer a similar fate by the end of the second round this year. That’s a fair comment. And it’s true.

But isn’t it true that heavily favoured teams can be upset in any format, including the old No. 1 vs. No. 8 format that was in vogue until six years ago?

Social tracking shows that big matchups like the ones we’ll see in April under this format launch the Stanley Cup playoffs with a spike in media coverage and fan engagement. TV ratings for a post-season are like a book: The better …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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