Report: Players fought against best-of-3 series due to fear of Price, Kane - theScore
|theScore 23 May 2020 at 12:28|
With the NHL reportedly in the midst of voting on an unprecedented 24-team playoff format, clubs weren t willing to give two of the league s biggest stars an easy chance to disrupt the postseason.
"The league initially suggested this play-in round be best two out of three and the players said no way," Sportsnet s Elliotte 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. "
Friedman added: "If the players feel that way, the players feel that way. They re the guy that they gotta shoot against and they clearly believe that he is a difference-maker ... The players fought the two-out-of-three because of him."
Under the current proposed 24-team format, the Pittsburgh Penguins would be tasked with facing the 24th-placed Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-five play-in series. The Penguins were nearly guaranteed a playoff berth at the time of the season s pause on March 12, whereas the Canadiens seemed destined for a lottery pick.
Price has a career .914 save percentage in the playoffs and is widely seen as the league s best goaltender despite his lackluster play of late. He was voted the best goalie by his peers in the 2019-20 NHLPA player poll.
Similar sentiments were felt in the Western Conference about Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks in a short series.
"I did hear that the Western teams - and now it s going to be Edmonton - they were like, two out of three with Patrick Kane? I mean come on. But it wasn t at the same level as Price."
Friedman added that the results of the vote on the proposed 24-team format are expected to be known on Friday evening or Saturday.