The New York Islanders got to choose their playoff opponent while the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t. This is peculiar because the Pens had the 4th best record in the NHL, and the Isles had the 4th best record…in their own division.
The last weekend of the regular season saw the Islanders limit their 1st line’s ice time Saturday, then sitting Tavares/Okposo/Nielsen altogether in their final game Sunday.
Why weren’t they trying to maintain their lead over their crosstown rival Rangers for 3rd and avoid a wild card? Because the wild card got the
perennial playoff beast Atlantic Champ Florida Panthers while the 3rd place finisher got the Penguins–winners of 14 of their last 15 going into that weekend, and one Saturday removed from a 5-0 beat down of those very same Islanders.
(Note: NYI's final game was against the Flyers, who one day prior clinched a playoff berth vs PIT, who rested their top 2 scorers Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang as healthy scratches.)
These shenanigans help minimize the regular season–an entity that’s already weakened by the increased prioritizing of resting players more regularly. It also produces 2nd rounds where the NHL’s best four records will cannibalize two of their own: Stars-Blues and Caps-Pens.
Why not let the higher seed choose it’s opponent? What have they done to not deserve this right, much less watch lesser teams determine their opponent?
I assume the Dallas Stars would’ve chosen the Minnesota Wild. The Blues, 2nd best in the West, surely don’t choose Chicago, whose three rings weigh down how they value a playoff seed. Maybe Nashville? It would add some interesting sub-plots in finding out.
The Utah Jazz had a chance to get in the NBA playoffs, needing Sacramento to beat Houston in their last game.
A small problem: Sacramento didn’t want to win.
The Kings rested their best/craziest players, dressing only 8.
DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and many others were listed as DNP-Rest for their final game of the season.
Resting for what?? A tee time?
Sacto needed that win like George Karl needed another stink-eye from Cousins, as the Kings’ lottery pick is stipulated to the point where winning hurts: they get the lesser of theirs and the Sixers, and lose it entirely to the Bulls should it fall outside the top 10.
This concept would greatly reward the NBA regular season achievers, as favorable opponents can vary widely from match-up to match-up.
The Jazz were so disgruntled by the thought of their playoff hopes resting in the hands of Quincy Acy and Duje Dukan, they went out that night and famously bowed out.
As in ‘Mamba out’.
Nearly as bad, the grossly underachieving yet talented Houston Rockets get into the playoffs to face Golden State. But wouldn’t the Warriors, if they could, choose the decimated-by-injuries Memphis Grizzlies?
If completing the most successful regular season in NBA history doesn’t earn you the right to play a lesser opponent, what does?
It’s you’re right against to oppose my stance, and not reward the Warriors or the Capitals with the right to determine playoff opponents.
But isn’t better them, than the Islanders and Sacramento?