Friday, April 3, 2015

What's the point of the "Wild Card" in the NHL?

The top 3 teams from each of the 4 divisions
aren't listed here.
I noticed this for the first time a few weeks ago.  The NHL has "Wild Card" playoff teams, and it's pretty weird.

The league no longer takes the top eight teams overall in a conference.  It now goes with the top three from each division, then the next best two.  So if by some chance six of the eight best teams in a conference are all in the same division, tough luck, one of them isn't getting in.  It's strange and confusing, and my guess is a huge number of hockey fans aren't even aware of it.

The other night a couple guys came into my bar talking about how excited they were for the Bruins recent hot streak.  I asked them what they thought of this playoff format (hoping for an explanation of why it came to be), and they looked at me like I had three heads.

I did a little research online just now to try to figure out what the point is, but nothing jumped out at me.  My guess is it's somehow supposed to build division rivalries, but I don't see it.  The one thing I did learn, though, is that this system was in place last year too.  Oops.  I'm definitely not a hockey guy.

It also really bugs me how one conference has two more teams than the other, that's totally unfair.  And if you have insight as to why this "Wild Card" thing makes sense, please enlighten me.

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