How Would Changing the Playoff Format Hurt or Help the Nashville Predators?

It doesn't exactly help the Nashville Predators, but it makes everything much more interesting

Colorado Avalanche v Nashville Predators - Game Four
Colorado Avalanche v Nashville Predators - Game Four / Mickey Bernal/GettyImages

The NHL has changed playoff formats every couple of years since expanding from six to 12 teams in 1967. The longest gap between changes was from the 1998-99 season to the 2013-14 season, in which the league switched from the #1 vs #8 format to the Division winner #1 vs Wild Card #2, Division winner #2 vs Wild Card #1 and division on division matchups.

The league made some allowances for the the COVID playoff years in 2020 and for the 2020-21 season, before reverting back to the 2013-2014 season edition of the rules. Yet it just doesn't feel, and really hasn't ever felt like a great format.

Also, as of right now, it isn't exactly benefiting the Nashville Predators, or the league very much. Maybe it is time for a change or a revert to some previous rules.

Elliotte Friedman went on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast recently and made the case of the NHL expanding the playoff field altogether, saying the obvious that it would make the league more revenue.

The Case for the Classic 1 vs. 8 Playoff Format

Either way the Predators end up playing the Dallas Stars, which is an entertaining series, but isn't helping them get past the first round. What it does do is shuffle the Western Conference playoff picture.

It turns the first-round matchups (potentially) from Jets vs. Avalanche and Golden Knights vs Oilers to the Jets vs the Oilers and Avalanche vs Golden Knights.


It also provides access to higher seeding for the Predators. They are locked into a Wild Card or bust berth at this point. Trying to catch the Stars, Jets, and Avalanche without one of those teams suffering a massive collapse and the Predators maintaining a massive hot streak would be near impossible. If you shuffle it one through eight styles, then the Predators are just a point behind the Golden Knights for 6th place, and two points behind Edmonton for 5th.

People worry about the idea of matchups but frankly with as much parity as there is in the NHL, anyone facing anyone in a 7-game series is a tough out.

This style also rewards strong divisions by giving them access to more playoff spots. Is a 4-5 matchup with Colorado good news for the Predators? Probably not, but in theory, the Preds might be more worthy than another team of being in the series.

Pure Chaos Version

Keep the divisional schedules and let the regular season play out. Then toss it all in a blender. Go by the final league standings and take the top 16 teams.

How does that look this year? So far it would be (in order) Florida, New York Rangers, Bruins, Canucks, Stars, Jets, Avalanche, Leafs, Hurricanes, Oilers, Golden Knights, Red Wings, Predators, Lightning, Flyers, and Kings. No conferences, no divisions, 1 vs 16 and down so on and so forth.

The NHL fans are now granted long series and matchups that they'd never see outside of a Stanley Cup Final. It is an international league that is trying to build viewership, and there is almost no way to see the league's biggest stars.

Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon playing East Coast teams in prime time for a long series is exactly what the league wants. It shouldn't just be limited to if they can make the Stanley Cup. The Predators have a bunch of regional rivals, or at least teams that could be much deeper rivals, and a few playoff series would really cement that. Imagine Predators fans invading Raleigh? Sign me up.

Somehow even in this method, the opponent is the Canucks, who have a pretty good chance of being who the Predators face in the first round anyway, so clearly the system isn't completely broken.

Are these ideas far fetched? Yes. Did I use that phrase because it's a Pokemon reference? Also yes. Frankly the NHL playoffs are far and away the best in sports. There is no need to actually change the playoffs, other than to just change them and try to create some new buzz and new matchups.