How about we use the old system. Take the top 16 teams (points) period. Doesn't matter which conference. NOW you have the best 16 teams.
I really like this idea. For this season, this would mean Philadelphia and Montreal would be out of the playoffs (I'm sure New Jersey and Washington wouldn't mind), replaced by St. Louis and Calgary. I'll leave the debate (over whether the Blues and Flames are more deserving of playoff seeds) to others. The question I have is this: Do the division winners get seeds 1-6, or do you rank the playoff teams in order of finish, division winners be damned? There's a fairly significant difference between the two methods. Here's what the first round would've looked like this year if the division winners were seeded 1-6:
(1*)Washington vs. (16)Calgary
(2*)San Jose vs. (15)St. Louis
(3*)Chicago vs. (14)Boston
(4*)Vancouver vs. (13)Ottawa
(5*)New Jersey vs. (12)Colorado
(6*)Buffalo vs. (11)Nashville
(7)Phoenix vs. (10)Los Angeles
(8)Detroit vs. (9)Pittsburgh
Detroit vs. Pittsburgh in the first round? Wow. Would the Avalanche upset the Devils? Wouldn't surprise me. Nashville over Buffalo? Ditto. VERY interesting...But what do the playoff pairings look like if division winners are lumped in with everyone else? It just so happens I have that info right here:
(1)Washington vs. (16)Calgary
(2)San Jose vs. (15)St. Louis
(3)Chicago vs. (14)Boston
(4)Phoenix vs. (13)Ottawa
(5)Vancouver vs. (12)Colorado
(6)New Jersey vs. (11)Buffalo
(7)Detroit vs. (10)Nashville
(8)Pittsburgh vs. (9)Los Angeles
In this scenario, Phoenix vaults to fourth, while Buffalo falls all the way to eleventh. Pittsburgh now has home ice advantage in the first round. Also interesting...
Travel would seem to be a significant issue with both systems (VAN-OTT or PHX-OTT, WSH-CGY, NJD-COL). In fact, given the physical toll of the playoffs, cross-conference (and cross-continent) first round matchups could prove more costly to teams than not having home-ice advantage. On the other hand, either of these systems should serve to reduce the travel advantage the Eastern Conference currently holds over the West.
What do you think? Are either of these systems better than the current playoff format? If so, which do you prefer? I'll now yield to comments/questions/criticism...
Take me back to On Goal Analysis.