I was fortunate to see Games 5 and 7 of the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings first round series. There's nothing like the excitement of a playoff game to get your heart racing and your emotions running. However, there are a few things that I've noticed the past few years about the playoffs in all the major sports that bugs me.
1. Going from 5 game first rounds to 7. The powers will be will tell you that the better team will always win the seven game series. That's BULL! the real reason they moved to the 7 game series is money. In hockey you can see that the best team doesn't always win the best of 7 series. The top three seeds all lost their series in the Eastern conference this year. Five game series would still have put the #2 and 3 seeds out, but it would have been very different had games 4 and 5 been must wins.
2. Rule interpretations. In Basketball and Hockey the rules get interpreted more loosely in the playoffs. It's not an excuse for losing, but it is a fact that everyone knows. One instance was in game 7 between Phoenix and Detroit. There was an obvious interference call just before Detroit scored their third goal (on the power play that was a bogus call by the way). The third goal was a back breaker and even though I don't think Phoenix would have won the game, it should have been called and the goal shouldn't have been scored. Who knows what would have happened then?
3. Congratulations after the series. The only sport that gets this right is the NHL. The teams after each series line up at center ice and shake hands. Every kid growing up playing a sport does this. Line up and shake the other team's hand after a hard fought game. How different would it be if the NBA, MLB and NFL instituted such a standard. Granted in the NFL this would be difficult because of the number of players, but something could be done. It is a great showing of respect to both the winners and the losers.
4. Length of time between games and series. The number of days between games is ridiculous. It drags out the playoffs unnecessarily. Also, it gets the players out of rhythm. Players are used to playing a certain number of games in a certain number of days. Again this is done for money. It allows for more games to be on TV and try to get ratings. However, by the end of the playoffs the fans are tired of waiting for a champion and ultimately are glad that it's over.
5. Start times. The time of games get changed in the playoffs. This is especially true for teams on the West Coast. Teams are used to playing home games at a certain time and are geared for that. To play the games earlier to meet a "market need" for earlier time zones is just plain stupid. I will admit that this might have affected the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 7 of their series. Playing even an hour earlier can screw up a player's clock. I'd like to see an East Coast playoff game start at 10:00PM in order to allow for the West Coast team's fans to see the game in prime time. Do you think it would affect the East Coast team?
So there you have it, my gripes. After all of that however, I have to say there is nothing like playoff Hockey. The games are always intense. I would say Football comes second, with Baseball and Basketball in third and fourth. Of course I might be biased.
You can now return to your irregularly scheduled playoff games.