The regular-season format has boosted those in-division rivalri

  • The regular-season format has boosted those in-division rivalries, but matching the second- and third- place teams nearly guarantees that those major rivalries will be out of the way by the end of the first round. While it’s important for the league as a whole to have a successful regular season in terms of NHL Coins interest and engagement, their best product is supposed to be the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By eliminating these rivalries early on, the league is hurting itself.

     

    Though not as long-standing as either of their rivalries with the Kings, the Sharks and Ducks are teams that have never been particularly friendly with each other. Three games between them this season saw less than five total goals, and all three were decided by a single point. When these California rivals face off, they know they’ll have to grind out a win. It’s physical, too, in a way that feels more fitting for a later-round playoff meeting.