WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL PLAYOFF FORMAT?
IAN SHEPPARD: I honestly have no complaints with the current format. I didn’t hate the old one either with the traditional one through eight match ups. But I just don’t see too many issues with the current format. Sure you get some of the better matchups done and over with early with first-round divisional series.
I don’t mind having the divisional matchups early in the playoffs. You’re always guaranteed to get the rival series this way even if they are earlier in the playoffs. I haven’t found the quality of hockey or experience of the playoffs diminish since the change.
WYATT ZIEGER: 1-16 would be unique but travel completely shuts that idea down. I’d like to see the old 1-8 format return but with a play-in game like baseball for the last wildcard spot in each conference.
Having the 8 and 9 teams play each other for the last spot would increase competition because fewer teams would tank with an additional spot.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: With modern day travel and how luxurious these teams live on the road, travel isn’t the issue with a 1-16 format, it’s time zones. It would be very unfiar to make a #1 seeded Tampa Bay Lightning team travel to the Pacific time zone. That would be a brutal way to start the playoffs especially considering the NHL works their series on a 2-2-1-1-1 instead of a 2-3-2 system for travel.
I like the idea of 1-8, but honestly, the best part of the playoffs is the first and second rounds so why not put the best matchups there and let it set the tone for the rest of the playoffs. I say leave things alone for a few more years.
IF YOU COULD PRESENT ONE CHANGE TO THE NHL GM’S, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
IAN SHEPPARD: I don’t know if I would pitch changes in terms of rules but I much like everyone else would like to see something done regarding officiating and player safety. Compare to some sports the NHL is well behind the mark in terms of protecting its players with consistency. In the NFL if a player is hit in the head and shows even the slightest sign of concussion he is immediately taken out of the game.
I draw back to an incident in a game between the Coyotes and Oilers when Conor Garland had his helmet pushed back before taking the puck off his unprotected head and into the net. Garland was not only celebrated for a unique goal but remained in the game to score another goal. I’m not being a bitter Oilers fan here, just feel that in an instant like there’s no way a player should remain in the game after something like that.
That’s just one instance where I feel the NHL mishandled player safety and I think it’s something that needs to be addressed.
WYATT ZIEGER: I know hockey fans hate major changes to the game so I’ll stay away from making the net bigger or giving teams the option of a penalty shot instead of a power play.
Instead, I’d like to see the point format change. I propose; 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an overtime win, 1 for an OT loss, 1 for a shootout win and 0 for a shootout loss. Giving more points for regulation wins would entice teams not to sit back late in tie games and would drive even more offense into overtime.
It would also weed out teams that survive in the standings thanks to losses in extra time.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I agree with Wyatt in the sense that I don’t think there’s an appetite for a massive change, so I will propose this: double up 3v3 OT. Make it ten minutes. At first, there was concern about how the players would handle it, but I think those have been erased by people in the game. Making it longer would also benefit teams with deeper, more skilled lineups since that’s what 3v3 is all about. More exciting OT and less dull shootouts, please!
WHO SHOULD THE LIGHTNING BE HOPING TO PLAY IN ROUND ONE?
IAN SHEPPARD: As it sits right now I think Montreal. If they were to stay in that last Wild Card spot, would be the obvious choice for an ideal matchup for the Lightning but I think if I’m Tampa I’m pulling for Columbus to make a push. I think Carolina is hot so if they drop a spot they would not be a team worth facing while Pittsburgh with it’s deep playoff pedigree could be scary.
Columbus is a team I think doesn’t really know what it wants. They went out and made some huge acquisitions in an attempt to win now. I just don’t think they would anywhere near capable of being ready for a powerhouse like Tampa especially after having to fight to get into the playoffs.
WYATT ZIEGER: If you want a fair matchup and someone that will actually give Tampa Bay a run for their money its gotta be Pittsburgh. They have all the playoff experience necessary and the best player in the world but they need to make the dance first.
If the Lightning take on the Penguins in the 1st round and get bounced it will be an extremely disappointing season for Tampa and create great parity for the NHL.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: They should be hoping that the Carolina Hurricanes grab the last playoff spot. Aside from Justin Williams, they’re largely inexperienced when it comes to the playoffs. I don’t trust their goaltending situation either. That’s a bad recipe for playoff sucess and I think the Lightning would throttle them.