It used to be so simple, the NHL Playoffs from 1993-94 through 2013 had the Eastern and Western Conference teams ranked 1 to 8 based on regular season record and reseeded after each round.
Starting with the 2013-14 season, the NHL went to more divisional method, similar to what they had from 1983 thru 1993 for the Stanley Cup playoffs, with a little twist. The reason it was changed after 1993 was because if one particular division was loaded with outstanding teams, their initial path was much harder to advance, while a team that was weaker could reach the Conference Finals having faced much easier competition.
Last year, St. Louis finish 3rd in total points and Chicago was tied for 5th overall, yet because they finished in 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the Central Division, they played in the first round of the playoffs.
This year the scene shifts to the Metropolitan Division where presently Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus have the most points in the NHL and whoever does not finish in first place will have to play each other in the first round, knocking out one the best teams this early.
There is growing sentiment this is bad for hockey. “It’s stupid. It’s the stupidest thing ever,” Capitals forward Daniel Winnik said. “It doesn’t work. It doesn’t make sense.”
Your reward for being among the best teams for 82 games is to play a virtual equal is ridiculous. I asked fellow handicapper Sean Higgs, who is having another fantastic season, up +20 units, about this. “Terrible, stupid”, Sean said. “This completely diminishes regular season accomplishments. Betting hockey in the Stanley Cup is completely different and harder than the regular season. Then you add in a potential matchup like the champs in the Penguins having to face the Blue Jackets in the opening round, crazy!”
So when you are looking over the NHL odds to make your NHL picks for the playoffs and cannot find hardly any edge, thank the brilliant people running the league.
Sean Higgs is the No.2 handicapper in the NHL at SportsCapping.com and you can get his daily Best Bets at www.vegasproinsiderdaily.com