The NHL's current playoff format is bad, but here's how to fix it – SB Nation

There’s no professional sports league in America that does their standings the way the NHL does. The NBA, NFL, and MLB all categorize their standings by a team’s win-loss total, the easiest way to identify which teams are good and which are bad. By comparison, the NHL assigns point values to regulation wins and overtime/shoot out losses, giving you strange record lines like the Penguins’ 15-11-3 record as of Thursday.

Not only is the format hard to read, it also makes the playoff standings about point totals instead of the raw win-loss system. Normally, points over a record would make more sense as to why one team gets in over another in a playoff spot, but the current format the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs take is confusing, and ultimately punishes good teams.

Currently, the NHL is split into four divisions (Atlantic, Metropolitan, Pacific, and Central) across two conferences (East and West). Thanks to the recent realignment, the NHL introduced the idea of wild cards, much like the NFL has, where the top three teams in each division get in, and the two runner ups in the conference behind them also make it.

The idea was meant to draw more competition in one’s division, and make the last few days of an NHL season more exciting when teams on the bubble are jockeying for position. The results of the new format, however, have made it so better NHL teams have a higher chance of being knocked out of the opening round or just pace good teams out of the postseason entirely.

The argument against the former came into play last season, where two of the Eastern Conference’s top three teams (Penguins, Blue Jackets, Capitals) would play each other in the opening round. Columbus met an unfortunate end against the Penguins in

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