Alex Ovechkin-haters aren’t going to like this, but that doesn’t automatically mean his point isn’t valid.
Simply put, Ovechkin believes that the NHL’s current playoff format doesn’t really do a great job rewarding the team that wins the Presidents’ Trophy.
He explained as much to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
“The schedule in the playoffs is kind of weird,” Ovechkin said, “because you play first team and fourth and then you play against Pittsburgh. … Then you think, why [do we] need to win Presidents’ Trophy to play against the best team?
“It’s tough to think about it. It’s kind of weird, but there’s nothing you can do.”
Again, Ovechkin’s critics will do what they normally do with this.
/Waits for them to grumble about excuses.
Even if you believe that he’s just griping, the Washington Capitals star has a point. It’s a little odd that Washington (120 points in the regular season to win the Presidents’ Trophy) faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
The Penguins didn’t just finish 2015-16 on a hot streak. They collected 104 standings points, second-most in the Eastern Conference. It’s understandable that Ovechkin feels a little bewildered that he wouldn’t take on such an opponent in, say, the third round.
(Which he’s never seen, as his haters will surely scream at their screens.)
The NHL has plenty of reasons to go with the current format, from encouraging rivalries to possibly limiting travel headaches. Just about any setup will inspire some complaints.
Ovechkin’s free to criticize the format, but the bottom line is that his Capitals will need to beat some tough playoff opponents regardless of how a bracket rolls out. If they’re not needing to face the Penguins, there are plenty of other worthy adversaries, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning.