Pass or Fail: Stanley Cup Playoffs play-in game, like in MLB

Puck Daddy

Did you watch the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland A’s in their Major League Baseball wild card game on Tuesday? Pretty exciting stuff, what with the Royals making the playoffs for the first time since the 18th century.

Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs watched the game, and wondered whether that October (eve) magic in baseball would translate to the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Now, the fact that a member of a perennial bubble team is lobbying for a de facto extra playoff seed should surprise exactly no one. And Lupul’s idea received a rather harsh response on the twitters …

So you hate the idea, but it would be the two most watched games of the entire season.

— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) October 1, 2014

But let’s analyze this idea a little, shall we?

The Case For Adding A Play-In Game

The integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs would remain intact with the top eight seeds battling in each conference. This play-in merely adds another level of intrigue to the postseason, and as Lupul said these games would receive huge ratings – hey, who doesn’t love a Game 7?

Is there really a problem with giving the ninth seed a little love? It might add to that sweet, sweet parity that everyone loves, keeping an extra team or two in the mix late in the season. The more markets that get a taste of playoff hockey, the better, and not just from an HRR perspective.

The Case Against Adding A Play-In Game

First off, making ninth-place the target might decrease the drama of the postseason race. More available spots, less drama. 

But the bigger issue: Game 7s are amazing because they’re the sum of the six mini-wars that were fought before them.

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One can argue that a play-in game is the sum of the 82 games that came before it, but that’s necessarily true: It’s still a one-game playoff series, which is the antithesis of what we love about playoff hockey.

So would you trade tradition and attrition for brief exhilaration?

Wait, are we talking about the shootout?

So, with that:

PASS OR FAIL: A play-in game for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

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