It’s hard to believe that with just eight days until the start of the Federal Prospects Hockey League season, that the league has not officially announced what its playoff format will be.
That seems kind of important, especially after an off-season where four expansion teams were added, and the league was split into division for the first time ever. Would the league keep it at four teams getting in? Would they expand it to six or even eight? Would the divisions factor into the playoff setup? And how many games would be in each series?
Well, after talking with sources within the league, it appears the league is set to move forward with the the most boring option available, and one that may upset fans: Eight teams total will make the playoffs, with the top-four teams in each division getting spots. That’s perfectly fine, but the big bummer and news is that the league has reportedly done away with its Best-of-5 finals, the one thing fans from both the SPHL and FPHL always said was better about the FPHL, and have reduced the finals now to a Best-of-3.
As a refresher, the divisions are setup as follows:
East: Danbury, Watertown, Elmira, Delaware, Mentor
West: Port Huron, Battle Creek, Danville, Carolina, Columbus
The eight teams, with four getting in from each division makes sense, you want as many teams to have a shot at the playoffs as possible, and as long as there isn’t a North Shore Knights situation, all 10 teams in the league should remain in the hunt for most of the season. And with two expansion teams in each division (Battle Creek and Columbus in the West, Danbury and Delaware in the East), at least two expansion teams will be making the field of eight.
And we even get the Best-of-3 in the first two rounds, because this isn’t the 2002 UHL where teams play 70+ games and then play a Best-of-7 in every round for some reason, you want to get these early rounds done and over in a single weekend.
But the league moving away from the Best-of-5 finals is the real bummer in this playoff setup. Again, we get teams want the season to be done ASAP to save on travel and ice costs, but a Best-of-3 final just leaves the door open to randomness. All it takes is a hot goalie for two games and it’s over. Or a puck flips up and catches a star player in the face during Game 2 and he’s out the rest of the night in a win-or-go-home game. With five, generally the best team will come out on top, and the drama builds with each game in the series. A Best-of-3, by the time you really get excited for it, it’s done and over all in the same weekend.
So yes, the FPHL playoffs will reportedly be bigger than ever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than ever.
Your thoughts on this setup?