The last few weeks of the 2021-22 NHL season have had all the drama of a foregone conclusion.
The Eastern Conference playoff field has been set since, oh I don’t know, Halloween 2021. The eight playoff teams aren’t jockeying for position as much as they’re letting the chips fall where they may and hoping not to lose any vital players to injury before the real season starts.
The Western Conference has an actual playoff race between the Vegas Golden Knights and schadenfreude, with the Vancouver Canucks attempting a last-second surge. Otherwise, the West is set, and has been for some time.
This is the part of the “Shark Tank” pitch where the inventor says, “It doesn’t have to be this way!”
After adding Vegas and Seattle in the last five years, the NHL now has 32 teams. Half of them do not qualify for the playoffs. That is abjectly preposterous, and deleterious to growing the game.
Here’s what the NHL postseason should look like, going forward: