Two of the top four teams in the NHL are guaranteed to be out the playoffs after the second round.
Goodbye Nashville or Winnipeg. Goodbye Boston or Tampa Bay. Thanks for playing.
That’s the reality under the divisional playoff format that could pit the top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences against each other in round 2 after Pittsburgh and Washington were forced into that predicament in back-to-back playoffs.
”There’s not a whole lot of logic there http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-logan-woodside-jersey ,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
How’s this for logic? If ranking teams 1 through 8 in each conference like the old format that was in place from 1993-94 through 2013, the No. 2 seed is facing the No. 4 seed, 3 versus 7, and 5 versus 6 in the first round in the East and the West this year.
A Penguins-Capitals style repeat could happen this year with the Central’s Predators and Jets on a crash course for a second-round showdown and the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning locked into a stacked Atlantic bracket with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
”You’d think that’d almost be a third-round series kind of thing, but so be it,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. ”It is what it is. You’re going to have to see a team like that eventually. There’s not much you can do to change it.”
Maybe this spring will be enough to spark a change in the oft-criticized format in its fifth season that is agreed to between the league and NHL Players’ Association through the 2019-20 season. The Capitals getting knocked out in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins didn’t lead to much debate.
”I would assume after his year there’d be a bigger appetite to do it,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. ”In the past it hasn’t affected as many teams as might be required to get that movement. It’s basically been us that’s been the team that’s not benefited from the 1 through 8. But we’ll see what happens this year with a couple more really good teams being beat out in the second round.”
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the playoff format is not a burning issue for owners, wasn’t discussed by GMs and should be looked at over a long period of time instead of focusing on ”anomalies.”
”It’s worked I think for the most part as we anticipated it would work,” Daly said. ”I do believe in terms of the matchups in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they’re better with this format. They’re just more intense and more familiar with this format than they were in the old format.”
Reigniting and creating new rivalries was the goal of this playoff format J'Mon Moore Color Rush Jersey , which mimics the one in place for most of the ’80s and early ’90s. Inequities have happened, but so has plenty of drama on Cup runs by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins twice.
”I think that as a fan, you want to see matchups against rivals,” said New Jersey defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016. ”I think that that pits archenemies against each other more often and it can backfire every once in a while. You can get two high seeds playing each other in the first round or the second round and perhaps that’s not fair but I think ultimately it’s good for the game to have heated playoff series against teams that don’t like each other and see each other a lot.”
Heated playoff series make this time of year fun, but Predators versus Jets and Bruins versus Lightning would be just as compelling, if not more so, in the conference finals. Hockey people reluctant to fault the system typically take an approach like Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who said Byron Maxwell Color Rush Jersey , ”Whether the format itself is right or wrong, if you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to get through this format.”
The difficult part is the format isn’t created equally, making one road to the third round or the Cup Final potentially easier than another.
”I don’t necessarily agree with how it is, but it’s the way it is,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, whose Flyers open against the Penguins. ”You have to have a mindset that you’re going to play teams in your division first and foremost and that’s just the way it is.”
Orpik said players can’t wait to revisit the format when the agreement is up, which could be part of the next round of collective bargaining talks. But there’s no consensus on what would be better – a return to 1 through 8, league-wide 1 through 16 or something else. The expected addition of a 32nd team in Seattle could spur change, too.
”You can play a 1-to-16 playoff pool http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jeff-locke-jersey , but I would suggest to you that there’ll be inequities in that,” Predators GM David Poile said, referencing travel among the issues. ”Pick your poison. I think you change that and you come up with the next idea, you’d run into the same thing. … I don’t think there’s any exact playoff plan that everybody would say is perfect.”
Mike Minor wasn’t so broken up about losing his perfect game bid in the seventh inning. He would’ve liked a shot at a complete-game shutout, though.
Minor took a perfect game into the seventh inning, Shin-Soo Choo reached base for the 40th straight game and the Texas Rangers beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Minor was perfect until Eric Hosmer’s single up the middle with one out in the seventh. One out later, center fielder Delino DeShields preserved Minor’s shutout by leaping to rob Hunter Renfroe of a home run.
Minor struck out five and threw only 85 pitches through seven innings, yet manager Jeff Banister decided to go to the bullpen after that. That drew a pointed response from Minor: ”Why?”
”I don’t have a complete game shutout in my career, so I still had some goals,” Minor said. ”With the pitch count being low http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mark-andrews-jersey , I feel I could have still went out there and possibly finished the game.”
”He grinded hard,” Banister said. ”I told him if there were only zeroes on the board, it would have been yours all the way.”
Minor (6-4), making his 125th career start since August 2010, said the thought of a perfect game got stronger each inning.
”Just try to make pitches,” he said. ”It was still a close ballgame.”
Minor benefited from two other strong defensive plays.
In the fifth inning, Jose Pirela hit a sharp grounder into the hole on the left side of the infield with two outs. Shortstop Elvis Andrus‘ long throw barely beat Pirela. Austin Hedges then hit a 105-mph liner to third baseman Adrian Beltre for the second out of the sixth inning.
”I thought, honestly, we had some hittable pitches early and missed them,” Padres manager Andy Green said. ”He wasn’t pitching the type of game that lent itself to what he was getting results-wise.”
Texas has won nine of its last 11 games while San Diego has lost nine of its last 11.
The Padres scored twice in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded. Keone Kela pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save Pernell McPhee Color Rush Jersey , the most in the majors this season without a blown save and a club record to begin a season.
Clayton Richard (7-7) hit three batters and allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits over seven innings. He sought his career-best fifth consecutive winning start.
Minor signed with Texas as a free agent last December. He returned to the majors in 2017 after having shoulder surgery in 2015. He made 65 relief appearances for the Kansas City Royals last year.
As Minor pursued perfection, he was pitching to rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa, an infielder making only his third big league start as a catcher.
”Izzy back there did a great job first time catching me,” Minor said. ”I didn’t really know what to expect.”
CHOO STILL STREAKING
Choo tied Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera for the longest on-base streak in the majors this season. Choo was hit by a pitch leading off the first inning and also had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. His on-base streak is the fourth longest in Rangers history.
Beltre’s third-inning RBI double was No. 624 of his career, tying him with Hank Aaron for 12th on the career list. … The first-pitch temperature of 101 degrees made it the hottest game played in the majors this season. … The Padres used their 77th different lineup this season, second most in the majors, playing their 83rd game.
Texas RF Nomar Mazara (tight left hamstring) was held out of the lineup for the first time since June 16.
Padres: Rookie LHP Eric Lauer (3-4, 5.05) will open the weekend series vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 12.08) will make his third start for Texas on Friday at home against the Chicago White Sox.