The NHL must shorten Stanley Cup playoffs

There’s so much I love about the Stanley Cup playoffs–the quickened pace of what is already the “fastest sport in the world,” and the increased intensity are just a few things playoff hockey has to offer. But I can’t help thinking the postseason is too long.

I am not one to demand less hockey, but I also can’t deny that playoff fatigue comes over me every year. We’re now in the third week of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs and are  just now entering the second round. There is at least another month left in the postseason.

It’s a bit ridiculous, but there are options out there that would solve the issue and still leave fans happy.


1. Change first two rounds to best of five

Unlike Major League Baseball, the NHL’s first two rounds are similar to that of the NBA format and are best-of seven series. Unlike the NBA, though, the NHL is often a lot more competitive in the first round. Therefore it’s not uncommon to see a series to go six or seven games, as evidenced by the three series that went to seven games this year.

A seven-game series takes roughly two weeks complete, which is ridiculously long for the opening rounds of the playoffs.

The league’s best bet to fix this problem would be to emulate Major League Baseball and make the first two rounds best-of-five. You’d eliminate at least an entire week from the playoffs as a result.

That’s not a lot of time, but I would bet we’d see more three-game sweeps and thus less time taken up by the first two rounds.

2.) Back-to-back home games

A staple of playoff hockey is the day off between games, even if the teams are playing back-to-back games in the same city. Sometimes the league even gives the teams two days off between playoff games.

I understand how grueling and demanding hockey is (especially in the playoffs), but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to prohibit teams playing back-to-back games when they’re staying in the same city.

There are always a few times in the regular season where teams play back-to-back games, so it wouldn’t be difficult to adjust or get used to that schedule.

3.) A 12-team playoff

Out of the 30 total teams in the NHL, just over half (16) make the playoffs. That means the playoffs don’t even truly include the elite and worthy teams in the league that season. It also contributes prolonging the postseason more than it has to.

The new playoff format that came with the league’s realignment will create a wild card round, but that seems unnecessary and still keeps the 16-team format.

Some good teams are going to be barred from the playoffs with the 12-team format, but it does make the playoffs truly representative of the league’s best, so there would be no shortage of good hockey.

If the NHL took those three steps it could dramatically reduce the length of its postseason and create an even better brand of hockey as a result.

About Tyler Juranovich

Tyler Juranovich is an Indiana native, a Ball State student, and a senior writer for MSF, where he's been writing about Chicago sports since 2009. His favorite teams are the Chicago Blackhawks and Bears. He's also a lover of reading, music, and movies. Follow him on Twitter (@tylerjuranovich) or email him at


  1. shoot yourself.

  2. steven samler says:

    You’re a frickin IDIOT.

  3. Hey wanna shorten the nba playoffs? mlb? no? well then fuck off.


    A Canadian.

  4. This is completely ludicrous. What makes the NHL great is the playoffs are generally very close. Only one sweep happened and the mighty Penguins struggled with the eight seeded Islanders. Your points could be any more incorrect.

  5. John Skins says:

    Walk in to traffic pal. Worst article I’ve ever read in my life. Nobody cares what you’re cunt opinion is because you’re fucking retarded. Give up the “journalism” gig buddy and go work at McDonald’s, you’d be a more productive member of society.

  6. Coyote_Ugly says:

    ^ hilarious
    “give up the “journalism gig” touché dumb fuck

  7. That would equal less money for the NHL (plus a plethora of other reasons). This article is a joke.

  8. STAY OUT OF MY HOCKEY dumbass…… we live for hockey playoffs ….. its longer because it is so competitive… money aside three game sevens ….. the boston/toronto series was epic…. go back to your basketball couch and STAY OUT OF MY HOCKEY

  9. gregornaut says:

    Excuse me, “borrowed from the NBA format” of 7-game playoff series???” Excuse me???
    The NBA actually borrowed from the NHL format!! –of 7-game playoff series JUST RECENTLY–and are the better for it. I remember thinking “why doesn’t the NBA do best-of-7 like the NHL”? I have been watching 4 rounds of best-of-7 hockey playoff series for decades– and am the better for it. It is perfect, My beloved Ducks only lost 2 games in the 3 (best-of-7) series leading up to their first Stanley Cup Finals– in 2003! What a moron. That is what you get with a “senior writer” writing since 2009 (!) lmao

  10. The NBA is the league that recently expanded to seven games in the first round, not the other way around. I can get on board with the “too many days between games in same city” stance but I think this might be a stretch. The Bruins and Maple Leafs had two days in between games 1 and 2, but then played the remaining six games of their seven-game thriller over the course of nine days. Also, the Bruins and Maple Leafs played (overtime) games six and seven on back-to-back days in different cities. The Rangers & Capitals also played games six and seven on consecutive days. This honestly doesn’t seem all that bad.

    • Summer comes soon enough once the NBA and NHL Playoffs are over. I don’t hear you talking about the long NBA first rounds. Once the playoffs are over we have a summer vacation drought in sports during July and August till football starts. And remember this year with the lockout hockey didn’t start till January and with a 48 game regular season this is really like the second half of the year so while I respect your opinion, I disagree with your points.

  11. NHL playoff hockey is next to sex…..but, of course, your hockey background at Ball State must be the source of your mistaken post here.

  12. That wasn’t directed towards Tyler, just that brain surgeon John Skins and others that resort to name-calling behind a keyboard instead of just bringing up valid points..

    • John Skins says:

      Tyler wants a sport that is already the least popular sport of the “major four sports” and making the least amount of money of the four to have fewer playoff games, which is a huge source of profit for these teams. Wanting a struggling league to voluntarily make less money? Tyler is a dumbass and I shall treat him as such. Fewer teams in the playoffs means fewer teams that are making more money. Fewer games means those teams that are lucky to get in to the playoffs make less money. Hockey teams cannot do as many back-to-back games as other sports because it is physically grueling and just not possible, the NHLPA would NEVER approve that change. It would result in more players getting injured because they are tired and worse hockey would end up being played because players are tired. A worse product means people are going to be more dissatisfied with what they are seeing and hockey is already having popularity issues as it is. Enough valid points for you Kurt?

  13. It’s a strike shortened season. The playoffs are starting two weeks later than normal. I wouldn’t screw with the current format , but would rather see 4 games a week with the season ending late February. This is a winter sport at least finish it before my kids are out of school for the year. Also some of these men are going to be screwed next season with the winter Olympics in Sochii Russia .

  14. I think your ideas are ludicrous. You may not enjoy the long playoff season but I think it’s amazingly wonderful, especially this year with the shortened season due to the lockout. Hockey is an awesome sport and the more, the better. The current format has worked for a lot of years. If you aren’t happy covering 4 rounds of possibly 7 games each round you should move you reporting to another sport like maybe golf (not that there is anything wrong with golf). Each tournament still has 4 rounds but it is over in 4, or at the most, 5 days. The might work better for you short attention span.

  15. gregornaut says:

    Tyler (wtf kind of name is that for a grownup, anyway?) needs to stick to “Duh Bears”, cuz he obviously knows nothing about the NHL or NBA no lol

  16. manotick says:

    Ain’t gonna happen. The players do not get paid in the playoffs. This is when the owners make their money and every home game brings in about $1.5 to $2 million. So the more home games (hence the longer the playoffs) the better. So learn to live with a long post season in the NHL.

  17. Slam Dunk says:

    Seem like a resonable program would be to have a 60+ game season and then go to the playoff format we have today. The pay scale could be set based on regular season and then pay players more for playoff games. Pay to playoff = better effort for all the regular season games? As a season ticket holder i see lots of throwaway games until crunch time. It is ridiculous to have hockey in late May and June. If you want hockey year round, get a life or a high capacity DVR.

  18. Have just finished this dumb ass article and the responses to it. All I can say are the respondents are more intelligent than the writer of this article.

  19. Hang in there, Tyler. The virtual insults hurled by nasty boys & girls are calling-cards for today’s online coward. “Home of the brave?” That’s tough sell if one spends much time in the comment sections.

    As for the grown-up idea on a PS shorten-up, what took you so long?

  20. umm, no.

  21. Dumbest article I’ve ever read!!!! The fact that you have a job when you post invalid points in your article makes me realize that you’re either brain dead or your boss is a housewife. First off in the early 80’s the NHL did have a first rd 5 game series, but then changed it to 7 games like the other rounds. The NBA had a 1st rd 5 game series up until the 90’s. Therefore, how did the NHL borrow from the NBA if the NHL did it first? That’s just being lazy or clueless, or a little of both. In 09 the Pens won the Stanley Cup on June 12th that was after playing 6 games in rd1, 7 games in rd2, 4 games in rd3, and 7 games in the SCF. In a normal 82 game season playing up until the middle of June is not that late..Your points for changing are moronic dude!!!

  22. Also to your 3rd moronic justification for shortening the NHL playoffs how are the true elite not included during a 16 team playoff, but are included if they changed it to 12? The NHL is the only major sport that has upsets in rd1, and can throw the seeding out the window. That’s what makes the Playoffs more entertaining; that a fast,grinding, hard hitting team that’s an 8 seed has every bit of a chance to be standing in the end as a 1 or 2 seed.

  23. Are you kidding me. Playoff hockey is the best thing about the sport and shortening it is completely bullshit. The playoffs are where players are proven, teams are made and history is made. If you shorten the playoffs, you decrease all of that. Maybe we can’t play back to back games because unlike your precious NBA, our players actually have to work. The NBA playoffs go just the same length as the NHL, yet you don’t seem to be complaining about that. You say that your a hockey fan, but NO fan wants to shorten the playoffs. And shorter playoffs means better hockey? What is that crap. I see that Ball STate is not a very good school, since you went there.
    Someone who doesn’t have a dick up their ass.

  24. No. All valid reasons above. No need for the personal attacks though. You’re just wrong Tyler.

  25. Checkmate57 says:

    Why are we continually being bombarded with these alleged “Sports Experts” that, in the final analysis, are proven wrong in over 92% of the cases. If we had the best of five this year, the LA Kings would have been eliminated (and I’m not a Kings fan)! If you’re bored, go do something constructive like ……think! You and your buddies in the sports media are all idiots that don’t know enough to come out of the rain.

  26. Wow… Obviously this writer didn’t think clearly when writing this article. First off, lets start with the fact that the NHL includes 16 teams in the playoffs because that leaves all even numbers, so that there is not one team in each conference that has no one to face. NHL is not the NFL, wildcard games work in the NFL due to the fact that it’s one game a piece, where as hockey has ALWAYS had a best of seven series throughout the playoffs. As for the back to back home games, the NHL knows what you can’t seem to figure out, and that is by the end of the NHL season, going into the playoff, a players body is fatigued, and injury comes easier. Therefore, the NHL gives that day of rest so the players can continue to play in the grueling playoffs. Sure we could do back to back games, however I can already tell you the number of injuries would increase. With all of this information you can see why I doubt that you understand what a hockey player truly goes through, let alone any athlete, which I can’t blame you, all you do is sit behind a desk a type half cocked stories like this one.

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