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Report: Players not having best-of-3 series for fear of playing Carey Price, Patrick Kane

Players didn’t want to face Kane or Price in a 3-game series, calling it unfair after both the Blackhawks and Canadiens were well outside the playoff picture.

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane in action during the game between the Stars and the Blackhawks at the American Airlines Center. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is trying to work its way back into action and I’m sure you’ve seen the reports calling for a 24-team, best-of-3 playoff format. Obviously, this is drastically different from the current format and would also allow 16 teams to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs who wouldn’t be otherwise. Because of this, players are against the best-of-3 format for fear of having to face Vezina Trophy-winner Carey Price and Hart Trophy-winner Patrick Kane, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

“The league initially suggested this play-in round be best two out of three and the players said no way,” Friedman said Friday on Sportsnet 590’s “Lead Off.” ”They felt it was not acceptable enough for the teams that had a better regular season and Pittsburgh looked at its matchup and it said ‘two out of three against Carey Price is not fair for a team that had zero percentage points to play in the playoffs.”

Right now during the break due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Habs sit at 31-31-9 with 71 points, good for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. The Blackhawks are similarly poor this season at 32-30-8 with 72 points, last in the Central Division. While both teams have underperformed, this is hockey.

If you know the Stanley Cup Playoffs and these players, you know that given a chance at the Cup, they will go 100%. Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rest of that Chicago roster knows what it takes to win the Cup. Price has made deep playoff runs with the Habs. If either team — or any of the other 8 non-playoff teams — is allowed to compete for the Cup, both will have a shot.

So if we look at how the playoff bracket would break down it’s as follows:

Eastern Conference

Top Seeds: Bruins (1), Lightning (2), Capitals (3), Flyers (4)

Play-in series: Penguins (5) vs. Canadiens (12), Hurricanes (6) vs. Rangers (11), Islanders (7) vs. Panthers (10) and Maple Leafs (8) vs. Blue Jackets (9).

Western Conference

Top Seeds: Blues (1), Avalanche (2), Golden Knights (3), Stars (4)

Play-in series: Oilers (5) vs. Blackhawks (12), Predators (6) vs. Coyotes (11), Canucks (7) vs. Wild (10) and Flames (8) vs. Jets (9)

So Sidney Crosby and the Pens would be tasked against Price and the Habs. I don’t think this is all that big a deal. Price isn’t really the same goalie and while he can steal a playoff series, so can any goaltender in this field. How would I feel if I’m the Hurricanes and I get to see Henrik Lundqvist and that young Rangers roster in a 3-game series? You can kind of point this out in almost every series. It’s unfortunate because ideally you finish the regular season and go in with the right seeds. Even then, you’re going to get mismatches.