1. Getting A Bye
The Blues are one of eight teams total, four in each conference, that will get a bye into the first official round of the playoffs. The other 16 teams will face one another in the play-in round for the opportunity to face one of the top seeds.
We now know that the opening round of the playoffs will be a best-of-seven series, which takes a small amount of the randomness out of the equation. Nevertheless, there is a strong possibility that getting a bye is not a good thing.
The issue with a bye is that the lower seeded teams will be playing for their lives. They know that if they do not win three games, their season is over and they came back for nothing more than a few paychecks before they went home.
The Blues will not have that same advantage. While they earned the right to be one of the top seeds based on a good regular season, they don’t get to jump right into the fire.
The NHL is trying to negate this flaw by having the top four seeds play one another in a round-robin format. Seeding for the opening round will be on the line.
This just is not the same. You’re not playing the same team three to five times, building that hate-like intensity for your opponent.
You’re not having your back against the wall, knowing it is do-or-die. You have that safety net of knowing you will be in the opening round whether you finish as the top seed or the fourth seed.
It might be a small distinction. Those small matters can mean a world of difference.
The Blues are not a team that wins on talent alone. A lot is attention to detail, will and determination.
Facing a team that is suddenly razor sharp while you’ve essentially played three exhibition games could definitely be a disadvantage. Even if the Blues were a better team on paper, they could get bumped out of the first round simply because they did not have that edge yet.