Updated: 11 p.m.
Carey Price has become a big topic of discussion with this potential 24-team playoff setup as the NHL looks for the best way to finish the 2019-20 season.
So much so that the fear of the Canadiens' goalie apparently curtailed the idea of the play-in round being held as best-of-three series.
Montreal is projected to be a lower seed and would not make the postseason if the league used its regular 16-team format. Price, a six-time All-Star and 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner, makes the 31-31-9 Canadiens a scary opening matchup, particularly in a short series because he has the capability of stealing a few games simply by himself.
That would end a team's season in a best-of-three fashion.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Friday on 590 The FAN's Lead Off with Mike Zigomanis and Scott MacArthur that the NHLPA pushed back on the best-of-three play-in idea. Now, the play-in round for the 24-team tournament looks to have a best-of-five format.
The reasoning has a Penguins twist. In the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh is the No. 5 seed, slotted to face the 12th-seeded Canadiens.
Let's make no mistake about it, one of the reasons, the league initially suggested this play-in round be two out of three and the players said no way," Friedman said. "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, ‘You know, two out of three against Carey Price is not fair for a team that had zero percentage points to play in the playoffs.’
"I saw some debate online. That's what social media is for — to rage at each other. People are saying, 'Carey Price sucks, his numbers are terrible, people are stupid for thinking about that.' Man, if the players feel that way, the players feel that way. He's the guy they've got to shoot against and they clearly believe that he is a difference-maker.
This season, the 32-year-old Price is 27-25-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. However, he has been regarded as one of the league's best goalies over the last decade, a guy that has often carried the Canadiens. In three meetings with the Penguins this season, Price went 1-1-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
Overall, it sounds like most were not too fond about the possibility of a contending team being ousted for only two bad games against what was originally a non-playoff club.
That's a valid point.
Were the Penguins — the three-time Stanley Cup champs since 2009 — leading that charge, though, just because Price was on the other side of their matchup?
It makes you think. It's also hard to blame them for whistling that scenario.
The Flyers can at least smile knowing if they see Mr. Price, they'll get seven tries to beat him four times.
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