Photo credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Marchand speaks his mind, says top-heavy Atlantic Division is getting screwed
BY RYAN SMITHERAM MARCH 24, 2023 (1:20 PM)
"You have the top three teams in one division. You have three teams that should be going deep, two are playing against each other in the first round.... So I think we should go back to the 1 versus 8," said Marchand.
He along with others that want the old format back, are absolutely right. If the playoffs started today using the old format, the Leafs would be playing the Rangers while the Lightning would be playing the Devils and the Bruins would get the Penguins in the first round. It was said last year when the Leafs and Bolts met in the first round that it was a shame that one would be sent home and that the series should have been the Eastern Conference Final.
While the league and Gary Bettman see no issues with the current format because of ratings in the US continuing to rise, the players believe, or so it would appear that way, that the format is not fair. For instance, take last season and the Leafs, who had the best season in franchise history, would have finished third in the conference and would have played Boston (ironically) instead of the back-to-back defending Champs. In that scenario, Tampa would have played the Rangers instead of the Leafs and the Rangers would not have gotten to play against the Penguins' third and fourth string goalies.
The playoff format will always be up for debate between fans, players, owners and of course Bettman, but as long as Bettman is in charge, there is little to no chance that the format changes any time soon.