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Stanley Cup playoffs structure highlights absurd regular season

Stanley Cup playoffs structure highlights absurd regular season
Published On: Sun, May 28
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Logan Stanley smiles as he walks off stage after being selected as the number eighteen overall draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville, which finished with the exact same record as the Islanders and with the same number of points as the Lightning (with one fewer victory, no less), is four wins away from the Stanley Cup " so remind me again of the value of the six-month, 82-game grind of the NHL regular season, if you please.

Dont get me wrong, the Predators " whose David Poile somehow became a finalist for the General Manager of the Year Award in balloting by a panel that took place before the tournament began, by the way, for constructing a roster that managed to finish in a three-way tie for 16th-overall " have earned their way to the finals against the defending champion Penguins.

The series, which presents the leagues marquee player in Sidney Crosby against the leagues marquee personality in P.K. Subban, could be mighty entertaining and should be extremely competitive. The Predators top-four defense, featuring Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Subban, is the NHLs best since the 2003 Cup-winning Devils presented Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski and Colin White on the blue line. Both teams skate. The winner will be a worthy champion.

As coaches are so fond of saying, however, dont focus on the result, but on the process. This years playoffs bring just the latest example of the postseason tournament essentially nullifying the regular season, which is so important it cannot be disrupted for anything as mundane as, for example, the Olympics.

In a dozen playoffs since the introduction of the hard cap, the Presidents Trophy winners not only have won the Cup only twice (Chicago in 2013 and Detroit in 2008) but have appeared in the finals just three times (with Vancouver losing to Boston in 2011). Whats more, teams with the NHLs best regular-season records have made it to the conference finals just one other time. That was in 2015, when the Rangers lost in seven games to Tampa Bay.

Of the 48 conference finalists since 2006, 13 have finished lower than 10th in the overall standings, including this years 12th-overall Senators. Had Game 7 overtime of the Eastern finals broken the other way, the league would have had its second all-double-digit final in five years " after the 2014 Kings-Rangers matchup between No. 10 and No. 12, respectively.

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