The St. Louis Blues fans and their brothers and sisters across the league have taken issue with the NHL’s current playoff format for awhile. However, nobody seems to be listening right now.
St. Louis Blues fans have a love/hate relationship with the current NHL playoff format. It is one of those things that can benefit you in certain ways and certainly works against you in others.
As with anything in professional sports, you will get people that love it and those that hate it. Also, as with everything these days, those that hate something make the most noise.
The people that hate the current playoff format rail against the fact it does not reward teams that finish with better records. Their contention is that if the second and third place teams from one division have better records than those in the other division, they have to play one another instead of putting that matchup until later in the playoffs.
The converse of that is the benefit of rivalries getting you into the playoffs quicker. You never quite know how things will play out if you change history, but the Blues got a heck of a charge out of defeating the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2015-16 playoffs. That momentum carried them all the way to the conference finals.
Also, you have to beat these teams more often than not. So, while it sounds good to get a lower seed to play against, if you want to play for a Cup, you will have to beat some of the best teams
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For all the complaining about the playoff format, there seems to be little real motive to change it, at least now. The NHL and NHLPA just renewed the current agreement for at least another two seasons.
Of course, none of us are blind. There have been player complaints.
Steven Stamkos discussed how unfair he thought it was in the media. His point was that, at the time, Boston and Toronto were the two second best teams in the conference. He said it did not feel fair for them to play each other right off the bat.
This was not the first time it has happened. Washington and Pittsburgh have gone against the other regularly and both are considered championship teams. Last year, Toronto and Boston each had over 100 points and they had to play in the first round.
It is not a fair system, but the NHL has never truly had a fair system. For years, the top team from each division would get one of the top two spots in the playoffs. The Central Division regularly had second and third place teams with better records than the top team in the Pacific, but they still got lower seeds.
However, for all this uproar, clearly the players do not care that much. If it was that big an issue for them, they would have looked into change right now. Instead, they have gone for the status quo.
Perhaps it is just not something they want to put up a large fight about now. Maybe it will be used as a bargaining chip by one side or the other in the coming collective bargaining agreement.
As the Deadspin article pointed out, they likely want to put off thinking about playoff reformatting until Seattle comes into the league.
Either way, this is not that big an issue. People like to complain and I get it, but the playoffs have never been what you could truly label as fair, so what’s the difference?
In the current format, the Blues could win their division and play a team that has dominated them in the regular season. It is what it is. Get in and win.