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Old 04-21-2019, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default The So-Called "Randomness" of the NHL

I'm seeing/hearing a lot of what I would call complaints about how the NHL is seemingly random and the regular season means nothing in the wake of so many high seeds bowing out in the first round. People are speaking about it as if this is a problem with the game and I'm wondering why. Isn't this the point of a cap and parity?

I would preface this by saying I think the NHL regular season should be shortened to around 60-70 games, while acknowledging that will never happen. I think this would do away with what is known as the "dog" days of the season as a shorter season means each game matters more.

As a fan of a 1st seed team who watched them flame out early, I have no problem with the fact that this is a distinct possibility. I don't believe there are systematic issues at play that resulted in the Flames loss. They sucked. There's no secret about how a team who barely scraped in can beat a team with one of their best seasons that is rooted in the cap or parity or whatever, the Flames players were bad. The same thing can happen in football or baseball or soccer or basketball or whatever. If your good players are bad you will lose. The same goes for Tampa. Did people watch those games? Tampa was bad. They looked like a regular season team playing in January, not unlike the Flames. When your players play bad you will lose. Especially when combined with the opposing teams players playing well.

That said, hockey does have a few elements of randomness that are more prevalent than in other sports. #1 is goalies. A goalie can single-handedly drag a team as far as the Cup. It's happened before and it's nothing new. #2 is referees. The reffing has been getting progressively worse in the NHL over the last few seasons and IMO needs a complete overhaul off all referees (not Linesmen, they do their job just fine). Start fresh with a completely newly trained crew. This is a systematic issue, but one that affects all the teams just as randomly, and so it can't really be said to contribute to any sort of factor that might lead to a bottom team beating a top said more than the other way around. #3 the amount of players in a game. The top players don't play as much as they do in other sports. Most other sports, their top players play close to if not the whole game. This leaves room (and necessity) for "lower level" players to make an impact in a shorter time span with an effort/talent/luck they can't sustain for a full season.

But really my whole thought on this is, wasn't this the goal? To give every team a chance to have a strong team and create competitive balance. You could probably take any of the teams on the outside of the playoffs and they would STILL have a chance to beat the top teams in a series based on the above (and a number of other) factors. But the main one will always be the winning players were better than the losing players for that stretch of time. I don't really see how you can argue this makes the sport worse to watch or be a fan of. Because the top teams aren't playing each other in the finals? The players of those teams are to blame, not the system.

TL;DR. Season could be shorter. Refs suck and need to completely be replaced. But the fact that top teams aren't in the playoffs anymore is not a systematic problem in the NHL.
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