Monday Musings: Playoffs

Jason Gregor
March 06 2017 03:40PM

Thinking

Last Monday the Oilers were nine points up on ninth place Los Angeles and the Kings had a game in hand. Today, they are ten points ahead of the Kings and both have 17 games remaining. The playoffs are coming, and after a decade outside the dance, it is time we look at what some young Oilersnation readers might have thought was only a myth, this wondrous entity called the postseason. 

The NHL has changed playoff formats regularly over the past decades. Relocation, expansion, lockouts and other factors have all played a part as we've witnessed numerous changes over the years.

The mainstay has been that 16 teams qualify.

In 1979/1980 the NHL expanded to 21 teams and the playoffs grew to 16 teams. Back then, the #1 seed played #16, #2 played #15 and so on. The first round was a best of five.

In the second round and on it was a best of seven, with the highest seed playing the lowest remaining seed and so on.

That lasted two seasons.

In 1981/1982 they went to the top four teams in each of the four divisions -- Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe. #1 played #4 and #2 played #3 in each division, and the first round was still a best of five. The second round had the two remaining teams in each division play one another, and then the Conference Finals had the Adams versus the Patrick and the Smythe versus Norris.

In 1986/1987 every series became a best of seven.

In 1993/1994 the NHL playoffs became conference based, with two divisions in each conference and the top eight in the East and West qualifying for the playoffs regardless. The division winners were the top two seeds and the remaining six had the most points regardless of which division they played in.

In 1998/1999 the two conferences were split into three divisions. The division winners were seeded #1-#2 based on points and the remaining five spots in each conference were filled by teams with the next five highest point totals.

In 2013/2014 they went back to two divisions within each conference. The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets moved to the East, while the Winnipeg Jets moved to the West. Now the top three teams in each division were seeded and the two remaining spots were filled by teams with the most points. 

ONE CHANGE


I like the four division, two conference set up, however, I would like to see one small change.

If four teams from the Central and four from the Pacific make the playoffs, I would prefer there is no cross over. I'd rather see divisional battles, rather than have the lowest wildcard team cross over to the other division.

I don't see the need to have cross overs if we see four teams from each division. Obviously, I understand why it occurs when we have five teams from the Central and three from the Pacific, which has happened all three years since the new format was introduced.

If you want to build division rivalries then a small tweak to the wording of the rule would ensure we see divisional battles when he have four teams from both divisions.

It also could make a big difference travel-wise for western division teams. 

For instance, If San Jose finished first in the west, and St.Louis was eighth, one point behind of Anaheim, the Sharks would have to travel to St.Louis in the first round, and the Central winner would travel to and from Anaheim. 

Why punish the top seeds by making them travel more?

This isn't much of an issue in the Eastern conference, because they are all in the same time zone, but it could still add needless extra travel.

Rivalries are built in the playoffs, and I'd love to see the NHL make one small tweak to their playoff format. We'd only see crossovers when the two wildcard teams come from the same division. 

QUICK HITS

Ali

  • Many wondered if the Oilers would surpass the rookie bonus overages. Connor McDavid will hit all his bonuses and max out at $2.85 million. He's already hit all four "A" bonuses, and he's guaranteed to finish top-ten in points-per-game, so he'll hit his $2 million "B" bonus.

    Leon Draisaitl will hit all four of his "A" bonuses, but he needs to finish top-ten in points, goals, assists, points-per-game (minimum 42 GP) or finish top-five in voting for the Hart or Selke. He is 23rd in points, eight back of 10th place and he is now five goals out of 10th. It will be very difficult for him to leap frog that many players in the final 17 games so it is unlikely he hits his "B" bonus and the Oilers won't have any bonus overages.

    Keep in mind teams can go over the salary cap using LTIR, but you can't exceed the cap with bonus overages. If they went over the cap, then they would be penalized next season. If they went over by $100,000 this year, then they would have a $100,000 penalty next year, but unless Draisaitl goes on a scoring spree it looks unlikely the Oilers will have any bonuses overages. Since they aren't at the cap, bonus overages wouldn't impact them this season anyways.

  • Darnell Nurse, Drake Caggiula, Jesse Puljujarvi and Anton Slepshev are not on pace to reach any of their bonuses. Matt Benning could reach one of his $212,500 bonuses. He needs to finish top-three in +/- among defenders (minimum 42 GP). Benning is currently fourth among Oilers defenders at +3. Andrej Sekera is third at +5. Oscar Klefbom is second at +10. It looks like Benning will need to finish ahead of Sekera to reach his bonus.

  • Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary are virtual locks to make the playoffs. The Maple Leafs are one point behind the Islanders for the second wildcard spot in the East, while the Jets are three back of the Blues for the final wildcard berth with Los Angeles sandwiched between them. 

    After seeing no Canadian teams make the playoffs this year, we are guaranteed to have four and we could have as many as six. 

  • After winning 16 games in a row, the Blue Jackets are 13-13-2 in their most recent 28. When teams go on a great run, it is very difficult to maintain it over the long haul, unless you are a truly dominant team. Outside of Washington, and that is a maybe, I'm not sure the NHL has a truly dominant team. The Blackhawks are 12-1-0 since February 1st (their only loss was a 3-1 defeat to the Oilers), while the Flames are 11-2-1 since the start of February. 

    I see a lot of concern within Oilersnation about the Flames catching them. It might happen, but if the Oilers win their game in hand tomorrow against the Islanders they are still four points up with 16 games to go.

    Very few teams can remain as hot as the Flames and Hawks have been over a two-month period. They are hot right now, but to remain this hot you need to be dominant, and I'm not sold the NHL has teams like that, even with all the Stanley Cup experience within the Hawks lineup. 

  • Kris Russell was back on the ice today and skated with Andrej Sekera. Benoit Pouliot skated, but he wasn't in a regular line rotation yet. No official word on a return date for him, but he won't play tomorrow.

  • Anton Lander continues to shred the AHL. He has 21-21-42 in 25 AHL games. Chris Terry is 2nd in AHL scoring with 22-30-52 in 41 games. Kenny Agostino leads the league with 21-48-69 in 53 games. Lander would be leading the league if he'd played there all season. He turns 26 in April. He his an RFA next season. I wonder if Las Vegas looks at him? If given PP time he could help an expansion team. The Oilers have more skilled forwards, but I'm not sold Las Vegas will next year. 

    Vegas could sign him to a contract since they have the ability to negotiate with RFA and UFAs before the rest of the NHL. If they sign him, then Edmonton wouldn't lose anyone else. So they might not do it before, because they'd rather take Griffin Reinhart, for instance, but it is an option.

    If he can get a bit quicker in the off-season, I think he can play regularly in the NHL. The only thing holding him back is his skating.

    Lander still believes he can play in the NHL. He is using his time in the AHL to ensure other teams see what he is doing. Good on him.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • Pacific Seeding: Home ice on the line
  • Davidson vs. Desharnais
  • The Steve Austin Line
  • GDB 64.0: Streaking in St.Louis
  • Oilers 3rd quarter report card
  • GDB 62.0: Capital Challenge
  • Talbot chasing a record and Oilers trade options
  • Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
    One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
    Avatar
    #1 freelancer
    March 06 2017, 03:54PM
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    Well put Jason. Not to discredit what the Flames have done over the past couple months but many of their wins have come against teams not currently in the playoffs. Either way it will be interesting to see what the standings look like at the end of this month.

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    #2 Towersofdub
    March 06 2017, 04:35PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

    you're so useless.

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    #3 Petrolero
    March 06 2017, 05:13PM
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    The lames are going to miss the playoffs by 2 points

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    #4 number99
    March 06 2017, 05:01PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    It's the elephant in the room

    Have you not beat this dead horse enough already?

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    #5 dougtheslug
    March 06 2017, 10:29PM
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    Swept Calgary. Swept St. Louis. Broke the Coyotes Curse. Split with Washington, won the season series against Chicago. Held their own against the California teams. Meaningful games in March ( and likely April and May). Playoffs 99.8% assured(according to sportsclubstats)

    And some people here are whining about the backup goalie.

    Yeeesh. Words fail me.

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    #6 Randaman
    March 06 2017, 04:35PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

    Ya, LB would be screwed in game 7 of the final wouldn't he?

    Worries for next year should be next year. We aren't winning the cup this year so why spend assets unnecessarily?

    We're listening...

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    #7 Dwayne Roloson 35
    March 06 2017, 05:09PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

    Mclellan said the other day that his numbers get better the more he plays. He also said that he doesn't practice much which keeps him fresh. Nothing to worry about. We could acquire a backup but he would play maybe 3 games down the stretch and no games in the playoffs. There's just no point.

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    #8 country mac
    March 06 2017, 03:54PM
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    Agree with the playoff format you suggest.

    Only problem is why would a team like columbus get punished and have to play washington if they finish 4th in the division. They already play the 3 most superior teams in the conference and their record shows that they are good enough to hold their own. Where as the other division is so bad that they wouldnt have home ice under a no division set up. They have a weaker schedule and cant make up the difference.

    This is where it is hard to justify the change.

    As for Lander, we need to try him and a skilled winger together in the NHL, even if it is in the bottom 6. Cant believe what he is doing the AHL this year.

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    #9 Towersofdub
    March 06 2017, 04:02PM
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    free perogies for a year.

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    #10 Randaman
    March 06 2017, 04:02PM
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    Great article Jason, my faith is restored. Funny how the last ten years of futility have made us so fragile.

    Wanting to believe and actually BELIEVING are two totally different things. This will be the best spring I have had in ages.

    Go Oilers

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    #11 GK1980
    March 06 2017, 09:44PM
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    Hey! At least the Oilers won't be playing Dallas or Colorado in the playoffs!

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    #12 Harry2
    March 06 2017, 05:41PM
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    The Famers might catch us but Edm swept the season series so theres always that.

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    #13 3 Little Birds
    March 06 2017, 07:08PM
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    Oiler Al wrote:

    Unless this team decides to put its work booths on the play offs could be "4 and done"!Its a new world come April. You cannot live on talent alone, and that seems to be the issue many nights.[ the last game vs. Wings should have been one sided as heck, but another 5 more minutes of game time and they might have blown it.] People suggested they dominated that Game. Wings were missing 4 starters and D man on a B to B game.

    Is McLellan they guy to get them there? He did not know "the way in San Jose.

    Congrats friend.

    You double posted and got more trashes on the original.

    Well done.

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    #14 wiseguy
    March 06 2017, 09:12PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    It's the elephant in the room

    This is what happens when a troll doesn't get any bites. He waits an eternally long 5 minutes and when he can't stand it anymore, pathetically replies to his own post. Ironic that he calls ON an echo chamber when the only person here who has replied to his own post is him.

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    #15 Homer
    March 06 2017, 04:32PM
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    I'd like to see Lander play with some skill on his wing I find it difficult to believe DD is a better option then Lander but hey I just watch from a couch so yeah. Cags and Kassien with Lander, speed to burn on the wings and a center who can win a faceoff and knows how to play both ends of the rink. He's tearing up the A can't hurt to try a few games I figure

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    #16 bazmagoo
    March 06 2017, 04:08PM
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    The recent road trip cemented our playoff spot. Going .500 on our toughest trip of the season wasn't easy. I was especially impressed with the win in Chicago. G'Oilers!

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    #17 nrXic
    March 06 2017, 04:30PM
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    Even as an Oilers fan in Calgary who might get subjected to chirping, I really don't care if the Flames land ahead of the Oilers (as most sports media and fans predicted in the beginning of the season).

    The primary goal was to make the playoffs. The secondary goal is to be competitive against divisional teams in case they do make the playoffs.

    After that, could be things like home-ice advantage, but I'm ok with the Oilers not being as good at Chicago, San Jose, and Minnesota at this point.

    So if the Oilers can make the playoffs, that's the headline right there, no matter where they land. Even if Calgary wins the division and the Oilers make it in via a tie but have more ROWs, headlines across the hockey world will be about the Oilers breaking that drought. The only ones who'll make a big deal about their relative spots are the fans of each team themselves.

    The second part, having a competitive divisional record, they're 12-4-3 right now, and with quite a few games at hand that ratio could change a lot, but it looks great so far. This means that if they play the Sharks, Ducks, Flames, they have a good history against them, and that says a bit about matchup chemistry.

    Wanting the Oilers to land higher than the Flames in divisional ranking means less to me than beating them in the season series. Beating Anaheim and the Sharks in their season series matters to me more as well. There are still 2 games vs each, and I want to know how the Oilers would stack in case they're facing them (likely Ducks or Flames) in the playoffs. A winning record vs either would help with their confidence going into the series.

    Because one thing is for sure, the playoffs are a different beast, it'll take a few games for the young guys to get used to it. They need all the little bits of confidence they can get. Beating their opponents in the season series will give them more confidence than their overall standing.

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    #18 Seriously Bored
    March 06 2017, 08:10PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    It's the elephant in the room

    Go look up how many back up goalies have played games in the playoffs in the last 5 seasons who arent named matt murray and get back to us with the results.

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    #19 I am Batman
    March 06 2017, 08:35PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

    Why do you hate happiness?

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    #20 3 Little Birds
    March 06 2017, 08:52PM
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    I am Batman wrote:

    Why not?

    The Oilers have played toe to toe with everyone this year.

    The only thing we are really missing is a backup goalie, actually.

    You just gave @hockey123 a chubby.

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    #21 Hockey123
    March 06 2017, 04:29PM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

    It's the elephant in the room

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    #22 BlueHairedApe
    March 06 2017, 09:49PM
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    I am Batman wrote:

    Why not?

    The Oilers have played toe to toe with everyone this year.

    The only thing we are really missing is a backup goalie, actually.

    Sorry but I'm straying away from the conventional wisdom of the last ten years and I'm going to trust management on this one. From what I've seen the last five months we've got some pretty good hockey minds calling the shots here now. If PC says in LB they trust and that the kid has been steadily improving I'm going to take his word for it.

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    #23 Hockey123
    March 06 2017, 04:24PM
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    No proven backup goalie. Talbot may or may not be playing too much. He could get cold in the playoffs or hurt. Oilers did not prepare for this possibility.

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    #24 tkfisher
    March 06 2017, 09:30PM
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    Those Lander AHL numbers are off the charts. We drafted them both in the same year, but if Lander could skate like MPS or MPS could everything else like Lander, that woulda been one hell of a Sweed. It's crazy to think how much money that half a step has cost Lander.

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    #25 GK1980
    March 06 2017, 09:46PM
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    Oiler Al wrote:

    Unless this team decides to put its work booths on the play offs could be "4 and done"!Its a new world come April. You cannot live on talent alone, and that seems to be the issue many nights.[ the last game vs. Wings should have been one sided as heck, but another 5 more minutes of game time and they might have blown it.] People suggested they dominated that Game. Wings were missing 4 starters and D man on a B to B game.

    Is McLellan they guy to get them there? He did not know "the way in San Jose.

    Edmonton did dominate and the red wings were lucky to get 3 goals. End of story.

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    #26 Oiler Al
    March 06 2017, 08:38PM
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    3 Little Birds wrote:

    Congrats friend.

    You double posted and got more trashes on the original.

    Well done.

    Didn't mean to double post,but I guess the flogging is split by two!

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    #28 Swordfishtrombones
    March 06 2017, 10:47PM
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    Hockey123 is simply masturbation. Just selftootin' the old skinflute. Leave it to the other sites bud.

    Also we need to put a smile on the Batmans face.

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    #29 nvan97
    March 06 2017, 04:06PM
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    Are they able to negotiate with players during that window and then sign when free agency starts? Or would that be considered circumvention?

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    #30 Anton CP
    March 06 2017, 11:01PM
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    Seriously, this is not the same build as 06 Oilers so having the same expectation or projection as 06 Oilers is just insanity. Let this team develop some seasonings and gain some playoffs experiences and then start to wondering about what will have to be done for this team to take the next step toward eventual championship contender. So stop complaining about back up goalie because those should not be an issue going forward that they will be in place eventually. Just enjoy the playoffs and cheer the Oilers on. It is only the beginning so be patient or this team will be ruined by your lack of patience.

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    #31 Oiler Al
    March 06 2017, 04:35PM
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    Unless this team decides to put its work booths on the play offs could be "4 and done"!Its a new world come April. You cannot live on talent alone, and that seems to be the issue many nights.[ the last game vs. Wings should have been one sided as heck, but another 5 more minutes of game time and they might have blown it.] People suggested they dominated that Game. Wings were missing 4 starters and D man on a B to B game.

    Is McLellan they guy to get them there? He did not know "the way in San Jose.

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    #32 Hockey123
    March 06 2017, 04:37PM
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    Towersofdub wrote:

    you're so useless.

    You don't understand hockey. I know you feel safe in this echo chamber ..

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    #33 dsanchez1973
    March 06 2017, 09:43PM
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    How about making playoff matchups like they do in the All star game? #1 seed gets to pick their opponent, after they do it, next highest seed picks theirs, etc.

    PS Lander is a clear upgrade on most of our bottom 6. He has scored at 1.75/60 5v5 this year. No idea why the organization seems to hate him so much, and I have no doubt he will explode once he gets out of here.

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    #34 Reg Dunlop
    March 06 2017, 10:49PM
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    dougtheslug wrote:

    Swept Calgary. Swept St. Louis. Broke the Coyotes Curse. Split with Washington, won the season series against Chicago. Held their own against the California teams. Meaningful games in March ( and likely April and May). Playoffs 99.8% assured(according to sportsclubstats)

    And some people here are whining about the backup goalie.

    Yeeesh. Words fail me.

    Anyone that remembers Roli in '06 has to be at least a little concerned because if we play the phlegms, you know Tkachuk is going to run Talbot shortly after the opening face-off.

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    #35 OilCan2
    March 06 2017, 05:06PM
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    I'm not sure about the article but I sure like the title!

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    #36 I am Batman
    March 06 2017, 08:39PM
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    Randaman wrote:

    Ya, LB would be screwed in game 7 of the final wouldn't he?

    Worries for next year should be next year. We aren't winning the cup this year so why spend assets unnecessarily?

    We're listening...

    Why not?

    The Oilers have played toe to toe with everyone this year.

    The only thing we are really missing is a backup goalie, actually.

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    #37 McDavid's Comet
    March 06 2017, 11:46PM
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    @Hockey123

    I'm curious, are you a Oilers fan or are you not a Oilers fan?

    No facetiousness intended.

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    #38 Oiler Al
    March 06 2017, 04:35PM
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    Unless this team decides to put its work booths on the play offs could be "4 and done"!Its a new world come April. You cannot live on talent alone, and that seems to be the issue many nights.[ the last game vs. Wings should have been one sided as heck, but another 5 more minutes of game time and they might have blown it.] People suggested they dominated that Game. Wings were missing 4 starters and D man on a B to B game.

    Is McLellan they guy to get them there? He did not know "the way in San Jose.

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    #39 Disciple Of McSavior
    March 06 2017, 11:13PM
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    I really don't see the lack of back up goalie as an issue. Savebot has already been a workhorse this year and has been quoted extensively saying he likes to play more. If Talbot goes down its not the end of the world - last year Matt Murray was a nobody till the playoffs. I'm not saying we are going to see that out of LB, But it would give us a good look at the goalie he truly is and give Chia some direction for the offseason. So either way is win-win.

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    #40 Towersofdub
    March 07 2017, 07:26AM
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    Hockey123 wrote:

    You don't understand hockey. I know you feel safe in this echo chamber ..

    I like how you respond to your own posts.

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    #41 mb
    March 07 2017, 07:43AM
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    @Hockey123

    How can you be so sure that LB can't do the job if needed?

    Comments are closed for this article.