The NHL just recently put forth their playoff plan for when action returns in late July. The basis of the plan has been laid out for a couple of weeks, but one question still remained; will the NHL stick to their bracket style set up, or will they switch to reseeding in the NHL playoffs? Well, that decision has finally been made. The NHL has finalized its plan and opted for reseeding after every playoff round, music to many hockey fan’s ears.
The Boston Bruins have caught the bracket bug nearly every year these past few seasons, resulting in two first-round game seven’s against Toronto and a daunting matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.
Look, the playoff bracket can’t be perfect, but Boston has gotten the short end of the stick for years. Not this season. The decision to reseed after every round will benefit Boston greatly and makes the round-robin tournament for 1-4 seeding even more important.
Bruins Benefit From Reseeding in the NHL Playoffs
Bracket Style Simply Doesn’t Work
In 2014, the NHL switched from the classic 1-8 playoff-style to adopt a new and innovative way to match up teams in the playoffs. It has done the exact opposite and quite frankly has ruined many seasons for teams looking for deeper playoff runs. The bracket play mimics March Madness almost to a tee, separating the highest seeds in different bracket sections. This bracket-style has become well-known among the sports community and hated in the hockey community.
Gary Bettman stated a couple of days ago that many of the top NHL executives are in favor of bracket-style play. The reasoning behind this? You get intense playoff series’ throughout the entirety of it. Instead of having Boston and Tampa Bay play in the ECF, you’ll get them in the second round, while you get another divisional rivalry such as Washington and Pittsburgh on the other end. It’ll set up yet another great matchup between two of those four teams to crown the Eastern Conference champion.
Bracket style bleeds ratings and profits. But what it doesn’t do is produce fairness.
A Break for Boston
If you consider yourself a hockey fan, you’ll undoubtedly know that the playoff bouts between Boston and Toronto have been plentiful in the past ten years. No one is denying that those matchups were great to watch, but let’s dive deeper into how unbalanced this playoff format has been for the Bruins over the years.
in 2018, Boston finished as the fourth-best team in the NHL (112 points), just half a game back from Tampa for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Maple Leafs finished as the sixth-best team in the league that season (105 points) and were slated to duel against none other than the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL playoffs. The fourth-best team in the league was slated to play the sixth-best team in the league, not even a round into the playoffs.
After a grueling seven-game battle with Toronto, the Bruins were met with an even tougher opponent, Tampa Bay. Ultimately, Boston lost that series, and a rather successful season was extinguished far too early by Gary Bettman.
The simplicity of the bracket-style format does very little to aid or reward teams who performed well in the playoffs. It was evident in 2018 with Boston, and it was evident last season as well.
Outlook for Boston
For the first time in what feels like forever, Boston isn’t certain to have a Toronto/Tampa Bay bracket group. Instead, seeding will matter immensely. Boston, Tampa Bay, the Washington Capitals, and Philidelphia Flyers will structure the top four seeds following their round-robin tournament, while the other eight teams compete for a spot into the first-round matchups.
Now, it’s tough to say how Boston’s playoff outlook will pan out. There are many moving parts at the moment.
First off, Boston’s placement isn’t set in stone. They’ll have fight off the Lightning, Capitals, and Flyers to maintain that spot. A three or four seed could spell major trouble for them.
But let’s look at the bigger picture.
The reseeding format gives every single top seed a much better chance at the Stanley Cup. By the looks of it, Boston will avoid a Toronto and Tampa Bay tandem. That’s a win.
One of the biggest positives, however, is the likelihood of out of division matchups. The Bruins will have a significant chance to play either the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, or Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. Not only will this give them a lesser opponent than maybe the Maple Leafs, but it gives them a bit of secrecy to their game. Divisional opponents know your game better than anyone and this switch up helps change the pattern.
Again there are a ton of moving pieces to this puzzle but I think that’s a good thing for Boston. That one seed is extremely important, and it holds more importance than it has since 2013.
If Boston can secure the one seed, watch for them to roll through these playoffs.
Reseeding > Bracket
Reseeding in the NHL playoffs simply matches up the best team left with the worst. Bracket style didn’t do that.
There are so many aspects of reseeding in the NHL playoffs that allow the Boston Bruins to compete at a fair level. Whether it be the absence of Tampa Bay in the second round or Toronto not taking them to a grueling seven games every year, reseeding is the way to go if you’re a Bruins fan.
Bostonians were excited about their chances before the suspension happened, and they should be even more excited to see reseeding the NHL playoffs return.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images