NHLers Have Mixed Feelings On New Playoff Format; NBC Blasted For Postseason Schedule
Fans who are "having some trouble figuring out the NHL's new playoff format" are not alone, as a few Penguins players "haven't quite nailed it down, either," according to Seth Rorabaugh of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Penguins D Brooks Orpik said, "I still haven't figured it out, to be honest with you. I understand the first round. I don't know where it goes from there." Rorabaugh noted each conference, now comprised of two divisions, still has "eight teams qualify for the postseason, but the potential matchups are significantly different." The NHL's official rationale "is that the changes were made to place a greater importance on divisional rivalries." But "unofficially, travel, television and the former Southeast Division were significant factors." NBC now is "more likely to have meetings between teams from strong television markets." For example, the Rangers and Flyers, "two of the best television markets for any sport, will face each other in the first round." They have "not met in a postseason series" since '97. But players "have mixed feelings on the changes." Penguins C Sidney Crosby said, "I liked the old one a little better." Penguins LW Jussi Jokinen: "I kind of like it. It's more proper rivalries." Penguins RW and players union rep Craig Adams said, "It's not something we (the NHLPA) supported, necessarily. It's the way it's going now. We'll see how it goes" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/14).
SCHEDULING CONFLICTS: In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi wrote the NHL in a way "spit in the faces" of the Flyers and Rangers when it released its Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule Sunday. But "it DID manage to get the teams onto national TV on consecutive Sundays!" The Flyers-Rangers schedule "is a joke, mostly because if the series goes the limit, the teams will play Games 6 and 7 on consecutive nights at different arenas." If this series goes seven games, the winner "will be worn down by the condensed schedule and will be at a severe disadvantage in the next round" against the Penguins-Blue Jackets winner. But the league "doesn’t care," because the Flyers and Rangers "figure to get big national TV ratings, and, sadly, that’s all that seems to matter to commissioner Gary Bettman and his sidekicks" (PHILLY.com, 4/13). On Long Island, Steve Zipay wrote the Flyers-Rangers' noon game on Easter Sunday is "ridiculous." Zipay sarcastically wrote, "Good way to pay back the loyal fan bases in those two cities on a religious holiday." The game is on NBC and so is Game 5, while "the others aren't even on" NBCSN, which carried regular season games. They are "on CNBC" instead (NEWSDAY.com, 4/14). SNY's Chris Carlin sarcastically said of the schedule, "That's a way to get your best quality hockey. Wake up Gary, this is a debacle" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 4/14).