Connect with us

Hockey

The 2020 NHL Playoffs: A Bizarro World

Could this 2020 season get any stranger?

Islanders After Win by Quintin Soloviev is licensed under CC BY SA-4.0

The 2020 NHL Playoffs: A Bizarro World


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The NHL has just concluded the opening stage of it’s “return to play” plan, following the lengthy suspension of the 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic. The qualifying series are complete, with the 8 winners each set to play one of the top-4 teams in their respective conferences. The most important takeaways so far:

The NHL announced this past week that there has not yet been a positive COVID test recorded in either “bubble city” (Toronto, or Edmonton). Take notice, MLB.

The on-ice product is as solid as one could expect given the circumstances. The games have been of good quality, the faux-fan noise is not terribly jarring, and the covering of empty seats actually leads one to forget about the lack of fans. Again, MLB, take notice.

But, the shake-up in playoff format, seeding, and qualification has also led to some truly strange outcomes as well. Ones that hockey fans would never had expected to see back at the turn of the New Year. Whether we like it or not, we’ve entered a hockey bizarro world.

The Boston Bruins are the first winners of the President’s Trophy to not enter the elimination rounds of the playoffs as the top overall seed.

The Bruins blew their chance at the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference by losing all three of their round-robin games. Instead, the team that earned more regular season points than any other in the NHL will be the 4-seed in the East, and play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. It’s a notable decline, considering the warpath they were on before the season was suspended. The Bruins had at least 8 more points than every other team in the league with 12 games remaining at that time. Had the season resumed as usual, in order for them to drop all they way to the 4-seed, they would have had to likely go something like 3-9 or worse down the home stretch. Instead, they erased their status as the conference’s top dog with three lousy performances.

The Canadiens and Blackhawks somehow have qualified for the playoffs.

Talk about mind-boggling. After respective upsets of the Penguins and Oilers, Montreal and Chicago are moving on to the elimination rounds. We may never see 12-seeds qualify for the playoffs ever again, so as nonsensical as it may seem, it is truly a sight to behold.

Montreal, who sold at the trade deadline and had a .500 record at the time of the shutdown, took care of Pittsburgh on the shoulders of a Carey Price goaltending clinic. Chicago, who many expected to ride out a rebuilding season in the basement of the Central division, steamrolled an Edmonton team that could not generate any offense outside of Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. By the looks of it, you’d never think that these two clubs couldn’t muster more than 72 regular season points. But here we are. One step closer to what will probably be a Montreal-Chicago Finals match-up, given how this year has gone otherwise.

But don’t feel too bad for Pittsburgh and Edmonton- they still have a shot at a huge prize.

The number 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft lottery is up for grabs tonight, and the Penguins and Oilers (along with the Maple Leafs, Wild, Rangers, Predators, Jets, and Panthers) all have an equal 12.5% chance of nabbing it. Think about that. A team with a winning record (and one that would likely would have qualified for the playoffs in a normal season) is going to get the top pick in the upcoming draft, which is expected to be the selection of phenom winger Alexis Lafreniere. If the 2020 season really just wanted to cap itself off in bizarro fashion, we’d see the Penguins or Oilers end up with Lafreniere, as opposed to the lowly Red Wings, Devils, or Senators- you know, teams that actually need some firepower.

But perhaps it’s this Tweet sums up the statistical nonsense that has been the 2020 restart so far.

Ryan Kelly lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone's throw away from his beloved Boston teams. When he is not working as an editorial assistant, he is providing commentary on the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins for The Turf.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisement

Editor’s Picks

Latest Articles