Two of the top four teams

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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 Jake Allen 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, 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 Joel Edmundson Jersey , 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, 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.”— CHICAGO (AP) — Joel Quenneville knew the deal. After three Stanley Cup titles and nine playoff appearances with the Chicago Blackhawks Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey , the longtime coach figured this was a big season for him.“I only think we’re in the winning business and we better win,” Quenneville said on the first day of training camp.Two months later, it was over.The Blackhawks fired Quenneville on Tuesday, ending a wildly successful run that returned the franchise to the top of the NHL after years of heartache.“We want to win,” team president John McDonough said. “We want to re-win. We want our building filled and we want our fans to see an exciting brand of hockey. Sometimes, as painful as it is, you need a fresh start.”The move comes in the wake of a winless three-game trip, extending Chicago’s losing streak to five in a row heading into Thursday’s home game against Carolina. The power play, a persistent problem, ranked 27th in the NHL heading into Tuesday. The Blackhawks (6-6-3) also are allowing an unseemly 3.73 goals per game.“A decision like this isn’t made on one game, one play, or one specific thing,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “It’s sort of a collection of things. Certainly the road trip was concerning. But I think even heading into that, there were some elements to our game where they weren’t where they needed to be.”Assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson also were let go. Jeremy Colliton was hired as the 38th head coach in franchise history, and Barry Smith, 66, moved from Chicago’s front office to the bench as an assistant coach.Colliton goes from Chicago’s American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford Alex Killorn Jersey Kids , Illinois, to the NHL’s youngest head coach at 33. Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, defenseman Duncan Keith and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Cam Ward are older than Colliton, and defenseman Brent Seabrook also is 33.“I have a huge amount of respect for Joel,” Colliton said. “Those are huge shoes to fill. I won’t try to fill them. I’ve got to be myself. And we’re different people, so I’ll bring different things to the table, different ideas to the table.”The 60-year-old Quenneville was the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL. He had another year left on a three-year contract extension he signed in 2016 that pays him $6 million per year, second highest in the NHL behind Mike Babcock in Toronto.He also was the second coach fired in the past three days after the Los Angeles Kings dismissed John Stevens.Whenever Quenneville wants to get back to work, he likely will have plenty of suitors.The former NHL defenseman has 890 wins in 22 years as a head coach with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. Scotty Bowman, Stan’s father and a senior adviser with the Blackhawks, is the only man with more regular-season victories.Quenneville took over Chicago four games into the 2008-09 season, replacing Denis Savard after the Hall of Famer was let go by former general manager Dale Tallon. What followed was an unprecedented run for one of the NHL’s Original Six franchises.Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Keith and Seabrook blossomed with Quenneville behind the bench, and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. They also made it to the conference finals in 2009 and 2014.“He’s going to be an icon in Chicago for the longest time Andrei Vasilevskiy Jersey , the great things he’s done for this organization, winning three Stanley Cups, so that will never be forgotten,” Kane said.Toews said the players learned of the move Tuesday morning.“We’ve had some pretty crazy highs and you remember all the good stuff, so it’s tough to see a coach and a friend like Joel go,” the captain said.The pressure on Quenneville began to ramp up when Chicago was swept by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 playoffs after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the playoffs entirely last season for the first time in a decade.Quenneville finishes with a 452-249-96 record with Chicago. He also went 76-52 in the playoffs with the Blackhawks for the best record in franchise history.The dismissal turns up the heat on Bowman, who has made a couple of questionable moves that helped hasten the Blackhawks’ decline. He traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina in part because of salary-cap issues, and each player has put up big numbers with his new club.“I believe in this roster, I believe in Stan,” McDonough said. “Stan is meticulous, he’s very thorough and when you break down free agents, when you break down trades, some work, some don’t. You’d like most to go your way and over time, they may. But his body of work is excellent. I want him to succeed.”