The NHL changed its playoff format four years ago and the change hasn’t exactly been met with universal praise. While the old format seemed designed to get the two best teams to square off in the conference finals, the new one seems more focused on creating regional interest with rivalry match-ups in the earlier rounds.
The new system has certainly done that as we’ve seen the Penguins and Capitals, Penguins and Rangers, Blues and Blackhawks and various other rivalries play out in the first couple of rounds. However, one of the drawbacks of the new system is that it rewards teams for finishing in the top three of their division rather than just matching teams up by point total. So, for example, this year, the New York Rangers finished with 102 points and yet they had to open on the road in the second round against the Senators who finished with 98 points because the Senators finished 2nd in the Atlantic while the Rangers finished fourth in the stronger Metropolitan division and ended up as a Wild Card team.
That seems to a little unfair to have a team who finished with a worse regular season record getting home ice advantage does it not?
“It’s easy for me to complain about it now after getting bounced so early,” said Parise on CBS Sports Radio’s DA show with Damon Amendolara. “I don’t, and the reason I don’t is because right now if you look at the Eastern Conference, the Rangers in the first round had more points than the teams that they’re playing in the first two rounds and they’re opening on the road. To me, I don’t think that is fair. Also, I don’t like seeing for example a number one team in Washington playing a number two team in Pittsburgh in the second round. Right away, you’re going to lose avery good team. You’d love to see those guys playing to get into the Cup Finals. There’s just some things about it that I’m not crazy about. I understand that you want to build the divisional rivalries and all that stuff, but it just, doesn’t work out fairly I think all the time.”
Another hotly debated topic in the hockey world is the NHL’s decision to not participate in the 2018 Olympics that will take place in Seoul, South Korea. The Games would take place in the middle of the season and the league has said that they will not build a break into the schedule for players who are interested in representing their countries. Parise, who was the captain of the 2014 USA team, like many current players, isn’t happy with the league’s stance.
“I’m a little bit disappointed. I know how much fun that I had and how much fun us as players had,” said Parise. “I know how special it is for us to be able to play best on best and to be characterized as one of the best in your country and to play against the other best. The hockey is unbelievable. It’s incredible to play in those games on that stage. Looking ahead, I think it’s unfortunate and sad that you’re not going to see these great players that are first or second-year guys in the league–the McDavids, the Matthews–you’re not going to get to see them play in the Olympics. I don’t think that that’s okay, I don’t think it’s fair to them and it’s not fair to the fans who want to see the best on best. They want to see a Crosby playing with a McDavid and a Matthews and a Kane together. I know I would as a fan. I just wish it was the other way around.”