FanPost

6th Seed Sucks - And You Suck For Rooting For It

There's a big difference between the 4th, 5th and 6th seeds in the West this season. It's obvious. 6th is the place to be, right? Any idiot knows this.

Some historical facts, Cup winners since the current format began in 1994...

1st seed: 6
2nd seed: 5
3rd seed: 3
4th seed: 2
5th seed: 1

If you exclude the Devils who won in 1995 as the 5th seed in a lockout shortened 48 games season which probably skewed the standings, no 5 thru 8 seed has won the Cup:

#1 seed - 6/32 = 18.8%
#2 seed - 5/32 = 15.6%
#3 seed - 3/32 = 9.38%
#4 seed - 2/32 = 6.3%
#5-8 seed - 0/128 = 0.0%

Or another way of looking at it, Cups won:

1-4 - 100%
5-8 - 0%

And yet more. No 6th-8th seed has ever won the Cup since the 1967 expansion.

Here's another interesting tidbit. Historically, the 4th seed is almost as successful at the 1st seed.


Another aspect that might be considered is the physicality and douchebag ratings of the potention 1st round opponents as the 6th seed. I mean, why would a team like the Hawks want to face a beat up team like Detroit or an overrated one like Nashville in the 1st round? Possibly with home ice? Especially when both teams rank right there with the Hawks on the Pat Foley Powder Puff scale?

We can deny that hitting matters because a stat showed us teams that hit more tend to get outshot and therefore by extension, outscored - but in the playoffs, it does matter. The playoffs is a war of attrition. Hitting causes injury. No, not just the obvious ones. Every team that goes deep is nearly guaranteed to lose a player or two at some point, and typically from a hit. But it's the minor "injuries" that build up from physical play that have just as big of an impact.

It may take a game or two, or three, or a series or two, but eventually every player accumulates his share of bumps and bruises - and often a nagging injury (or injuries) he has to play through. There's no guaranty that playing a less physical team will reduce injuries, but I'm gonna assume common sense works out mathematically here when considering the odds.

Am I saying the Hawks are a bunch of pansies? Of course I am! No. It's a reality of the playoffs - and this Hawks team - that many won't admit to. Fuck, even I don't want to admit to it. But the reality is that a good portion of the team has been hit with brown brain at some point in the recent past or suffering from it in the present. That, along with other injuries. Even Sharp is playing with a broken wrist.

Sometimes a team wins a violently fought series, but limps into the next one. In my opinion, common sense says you'd rather save an obvious overly-physical matchup for later in playoffs. Since I highly doubt the Hawks are gonna be the team in any series bringing the pain, I'd prefer they avoid some of the leagues bigger douchebags until later in the playoffs. If they make if that far.

But I digress. That's was only meant to be a subtopic of my argument against rooting for the 6th seed...

The 6th seed is somewhere between 99.99997 and 99.99999 percent guaranteed to play the entire playoffs and Finals without home ice advantage (maybe a slight Vancouver-esque exaggeration, but close). And if anyone hasn't noticed, the Hawks aren't that great of a road team. But yeah, let's cheer for an instant disadvantage.

On the other hand, the 4th seed will definitely get home ice for the 1st round, and very likely for the 2nd round too. I believe, on average, 3 of the league's top 8 seeds lose in the 1st round since the current playoff format commenced in the NHL. With the 3rd seed probably weaker than the 6th seed in the West, another top seed could likely fall based on past averages.

So if the Hawks get the 4th seed and win, there's a good chance they then get to play the 6th seed and have home ice advantage again in the 2nd round. And there's still a chance for home ice in the 3rd round too. These possibilities don't realistically exist if the Hawks start as the 6th seed.

And there's much more to the home ice advantage than just having one extra game at home. It's a huge psychological advantage when a strong home ice team (like the Hawks) can grab the first game or two of the series. Sure it can work the other way too, but odds are in the home team's favor.

Interesting possible scenario...

If the Hawks climb to 4th, Detroit falls to 5th, and Nashville to 6th, here are the Blackhawks possible opponents by round:

Round 1: Detroit (Hawks: home ice adv)

Round 2: Nashville (Hawks: home ice adv)

Round 3: St Louis (or Vancouver)

If you really, truly enjoy hockey and strong rivalries, how could you not want to see this?

So do you want to start as the 6th seed and play a very physical Dallas team (or LA, PHX, COL) without home ice in the 1st round in order to get the winner of DET-NSH without home ice again in the 2nd round?

Personally, I'd prefer guaranteed home ice against Detroit, which is beat up and plays a style similar to the Hawks and who the Hawks should be able to out-talent over a 7-game series with home ice, or a one-dimensional Nashville. (let's assume Detroit for now, but it doesn't really matter for this example. As shown, the Hawks could likely play both)

Win that and either they're on the road against the weaker Pacific Division winner (which they would have had to do in the 1st round with the other scenario anyways), or with home ice against Nashville. Nashville, one of the league's most overrated teams by a long stretch this season. Pekka Rinne. Pekka Rinne. Pekka Rinne. Did I mention, that the Hawks have the home ice advantage?

If the Hawks finish 6th and win in the 1st round, they still have to face either Nashville or Detroit in the 2nd round - but instead on the road. Why cheer for a lesser seed when the matchups are likely to be the same, but guaranteed to be on the road?

Any path to the Cup is a long and difficult one. There's no guaranty the Hawks will even make it out of the 1st round regardless of the opponent. Plus, almost every other team has a goalie (or two) who is very capable of stealing a series (except for maybe the Hawks). Why hope for the route with a built in disadvantage of starting and finishing on the road?

The climb to 4th may be unlikely, but what kind of asshole cheers against his or her own favorite team? To me, that doesn't make much sense. But that's just me, Libra rising; the scales. And oddly enough Sheba the Destroyer.

(OK, that's actually Bill Hicks, but even if he's rolling in his grave over me stealing his line, he completely agrees that only a fan of "participation awards" cheers for 6th when a better situation is well within reach.)

Go (to the 4th seed) Hawks!

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