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Two of the top four teams in the NHL are guaranteed to be out the playoffs after the second round.Goodbye Nashville or Winnipeg. Goodbye Boston or Tampa Bay. Thanks for playing.That’s the reality under the divisional playoff format that could pit the top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences against each other in round 2 after Pittsburgh and Washington were forced into that predicament in back-to-back playoffs.”There’s not a whole lot of logic there Authentic Mikael Backlund Jersey ,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said.How’s this for logic? If ranking teams 1 through 8 in each conference like the old format that was in place from 1993-94 through 2013, the No. 2 seed is facing the No. 4 seed, 3 versus 7, and 5 versus 6 in the first round in the East and the West this year.A Penguins-Capitals style repeat could happen this year with the Central’s Predators and Jets on a crash course for a second-round showdown and the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning locked into a stacked Atlantic bracket with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”You’d think that’d almost be a third-round series kind of thing, but so be it,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. ”It is what it is. You’re going to have to see a team like that eventually. There’s not much you can do to change it.”Maybe this spring will be enough to spark a change in the oft-criticized format in its fifth season that is agreed to between the league and NHL Players’ Association through the 2019-20 season. The Capitals getting knocked out in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins didn’t lead to much debate.”I would assume after his year there’d be a bigger appetite to do it,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. ”In the past it hasn’t affected as many teams as might be required to get that movement. It’s basically been us that’s been the team that’s not benefited from the 1 through 8. But we’ll see what happens this year with a couple more really good teams being beat out in the second round.”Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the playoff format is not a burning issue for owners, wasn’t discussed by GMs and should be looked at over a long period of time instead of focusing on ”anomalies.””It’s worked I think for the most part as we anticipated it would work,” Daly said. ”I do believe in terms of the matchups in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they’re better with this format. They’re just more intense and more familiar with this format than they were in the old format.”Reigniting and creating new rivalries was the goal of this playoff format, which mimics the one in place for most of the ’80s and early ’90s. Inequities have happened, but so has plenty of drama on Cup runs by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins twice.”I think that as a fan, you want to see matchups against rivals,” said New Jersey defenseman Ben Lovejoy Mike Smith Jersey , who won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016. ”I think that that pits archenemies against each other more often and it can backfire every once in a while. You can get two high seeds playing each other in the first round or the second round and perhaps that’s not fair but I think ultimately it’s good for the game to have heated playoff series against teams that don’t like each other and see each other a lot.”Heated playoff series make this time of year fun, but Predators versus Jets and Bruins versus Lightning would be just as compelling, if not more so, in the conference finals. Hockey people reluctant to fault the system typically take an approach like Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who said, ”Whether the format itself is right or wrong, if you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to get through this format.”The difficult part is the format isn’t created equally, making one road to the third round or the Cup Final potentially easier than another.”I don’t necessarily agree with how it is, but it’s the way it is,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, whose Flyers open against the Penguins. ”You have to have a mindset that you’re going to play teams in your division first and foremost and that’s just the way it is.”Orpik said players can’t wait to revisit the format when the agreement is up, which could be part of the next round of collective bargaining talks. But there’s no consensus on what would be better – a return to 1 through 8, league-wide 1 through 16 or something else. The expected addition of a 32nd team in Seattle could spur change, too.”You can play a 1-to-16 playoff pool Artemi Panarin Jersey , but I would suggest to you that there’ll be inequities in that,” Predators GM David Poile said, referencing travel among the issues. ”Pick your poison. I think you change that and you come up with the next idea, you’d run into the same thing. … I don’t think there’s any exact playoff plan that everybody would say is perfect.”— NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck got to watch his teammates put on a goal-scoring show in Music City.Now he can’t wait to see what they do back home in Winnipeg with a chance at history.The franchise that just won its first playoff series in the first round is heading home for Game 6 with a chance to eliminate the Presidents’ Trophy winners and clinch Winnipeg’s first berth in the Western Conference final.”It’s going to be awesome,” Hellebuyck said. ”Our home fans have been waiting for this for a while.”Kyle Connor had two goals and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Nashville Predators 6-2 on Saturday night to grab a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal.Jets captain Blake Wheeler said they have a little bit of experience with a chance to close out an opponent. Winnipeg ousted Minnesota in five games in the first round.”We’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” said Wheeler, who had three assists. ”This is a team that doesn’t go away. We’ve played them 10 times now this year and they fight to the very end every single game. We have a ton of respect for how hard they play every night.”Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist, and Paul Stastny and Mathieu Perrault also scored as the Jets got four goals on 14 shots in the second period. Nikolaj Ehlers added two assists.Yannick Weber and Ryan Johansen each scored for Nashville. The Predators have not won consecutive games since taking a 2-0 lead over Colorado to start the playoffs, but defenseman P.K. Subban insisted they will be back for a Game 7.”We’ve got a ton of experience in here,” Subban said. ”We’ve had our backs against the wall before. Like I said, we’re going to go to Winnipeg, we’re going to win a game, we’re going to come back here. Every single guy in here believes that.”Nashville coach Peter Laviolette noted his Predators have won in Winnipeg before. They won 2-1 Thursday night to tie up the series at 2-2.”The plane’s already booked, and we were ready to go Shane Doan Jersey ,” Laviolette said. ”There’s no group that I’d rather be with to win one hockey game than this group.”Pekka Rinne, Nashville’s Vezina Trophy finalist, was pulled for the third time this postseason after giving up six goals on 26 shots.Lady Antebellum became the latest star act to handle the U.S. anthem, and the Grammy-winning trio missed part of the lyrics. But Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton waved the rally towel, and one of first catfish to hit the ice was tossed by Caleb Daniel, a 5-year-old Predators fan with a new heart.Laviolette switched his lines again, swapping out Scott Hartnell for Kevin Fiala. This change didn’t work.Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice brought back Perrault on the third line after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.The Predators had plenty of great scoring chances while outshooting the Jets 11-7. Only a great performance by Hellebuyck kept it scoreless through the first period for the first time in this series.”It starts with Connor,” Connor said of Hellebuyck. ”He’s been the backbone the whole year. He played great again tonight.”They made up for that in the second. Patrik Laine helped get the Jets on the board with a shot that deflected off Stastny’s right hand and past Rinne at 7:44. Defenseman Yannick Weber tied it up for Nashville with a wrister from the left circle at 11:08.Then the Jets scored two of their next three goals 2:05 apart.First, Connor scored off the rebound of a shot by Scheifele with 7:30 left for his first postseason goal, then Rinne lost his stick in a scrum in the crease. The puck squirted out, and Byfuglien scored with a slap shot for a 3-1 lead with 5:25 remaining. Connor made it 4-1 with a wrister from the slot with just under three minutes to go.The period seemed to be slipping further away from Nashville when Viktor Arvidsson went to the box for slashing. But Johansen scored his fifth goal this postseason with 2:01 remaining for the first short-handed goal of his career in the postseason.The Jets made it 5-2 just 28 seconds into the third, stifling any Nashville rally when Scheifele scored his ninth goal this postseason from the slot. Perreault capped the scoring at 6:23 to chase Rinne for the second time this series.NOTES: Nashville now is 0-4 when trailing after two periods this postseason. … Weber’s goal was the fourth of his career in the postseason and first with Nashville.—

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