Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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New playoff format triumph for Bettman, NHL

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: April 25, 2014 - 10:31 AM

There might be some complications in the future, but the first spring of the NHL’s new playoff format has turned out to be genius.

The NHL switched from the easy math of three five-team divisions in both of its conferences to an imbalanced formula of two divisions in each conference. This put a pair of eight-team divisions in the East and a pair of seven-team divisions in the West.

That meant there was a 50 percent chance to reach the playoffs in the East and a 57 percent chance to the reach the playoffs in the West.

You didn’t hear much whining about that this winter, what with the West setting a much-higher standard that the East for points required to stay in the playoff race.

The controversial part of the realignment was to guarantee three playoff spots for each division, with a pair of wild cards. There’s a possibility for the future that you get an extra-weak division, where the third-place team is in the 80s in points and there’s a sixth-place team in the 90s, and then there will be some howling.

There also was a point this season when it appeared the Wild would wind up with more points as the fourth-place team in the Central than would the L.A. Kings as the third-place team in Pacific … yet wind up behind them in the seeding because of wild-card status.

That didn’t turn out to the case, as the Kings finished with 100 points to the Wild’s 98. And, getting the seventh seed turned out to create the best match the Wild could have gotten, winding up against Colorado’s regular-season overachievers.

The new playoff format was designed to build greater rivalries with division opponents and it turned out to be close to perfect. The Nos. 2 and 3 teams from each division were bracketed into the first round. The No. 1 seed from each division would play a wild-card. As it turned out, seven of the eight series have been within the division.

The Wild and the Avalanche will dislike one another more than ever after this series is over, thanks to Matt Cooke’s cheap shot, followed by the strong likelihood the Ws, as slight underdogs, are going to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win.

The Blues and the Blackhawks will have ratcheted things up another notch when this first-round series is over, thanks to Brent Seabrook, and the tremendous level of competition.

The Penguins and the Bluejackets? I don’t know how much the Penguins saw Columbus as a rival, but they are going to feel that way come next season after the feisty work by Todd Richards’ underdogs.

Detroit’s welcome to the Eastern Conference could not have turned out better for the NHL, what with a first-round series against another original sixer, Boston. Doc Emrick has been a master of weaving in historical notes on past Red Wings-Bruins playoff showdowns within his immaculate play-by-play.

The new playoff format has been a triumph of marketing for Gary Bettman and the NHL, which is something this commissioner and this league have not been accused of on a regular basis.

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San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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