It doesn’t sound like Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos agrees with the NHL’s (newish) playoff format.
As the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, Stamkos and his Lightning teammates would face the #8 seed; similar to the old format. However, the # 2 seed Boston Bruins and #3 seed Toronto Maple Leafs would square off in the first round. Sure, it would in all likelihood make for another entertaining series BUT both happen to be two of the top teams not just in the East, but the entire NHL.
So is this fair? Stamkos doesn’t seem to think so. The 29-year-old was asked about the current system and cited the Maple Leafs and Bruins for reasons why he disagrees with it.
Talk about Montreal and Ottawa all you want, but there’s no arguing that the Bruins have more recently been the Leafs’ biggest rival. After going toe-to-toe in one of the more memorable first round series in NHL history back in 2013, Boston once again got the best of their opponent in the 2018 postseason after taking the Leafs to seven games. Now, it looks like they’re set to square off again while the New York Islanders would face the Carolina Hurricanes over on the Metropolitan side.
Both have fewer points than Toronto and Boston.
To make matters worse, the winner of the series would potentially have to take on Tampa Bay in the second round. And for the Leafs, that doesn’t look like a very favourable matchup either…
At the end of the day, Stammer’s right when he says that you need to be the best team in the league regardless of who you play against. But there’s no doubt that the winner of that potential Leafs vs. Bruins series would be facing their second round opponent with a few nicks in their armour.
(H/T Tampa Bay Lightning)