The intense playoff competition in the Patrick Division tends to obscure the fact that the Stanley Cup playoffs have not been a rousing success in some other cities, notably in the west.
Saturday crowds of 8,123 in Winnipeg and 7,854 in Vancouver are a good indication of the apathy that pervades the Smythe Division because of Edmonton's overpowering presence.
Most of the western teams want a different playoff format, but so far nobody has come up with anything better than the one currently in use. The idea of using the conferences as a basis for something new is restricted by the fact that most of the good teams are in the Prince of Wales Conference, so such a shift would not solve the problem.
One change that is likely to be effected as part of a new collective-bargaining agreement is a best-of-seven series in the first round. The recent demise of division winners Quebec and Chicago emphasized once again the need for a more equitable arrangement.
The best-of-five, which annually is responsible for most of the playoff upsets, creates too much of a panic situation for a team that is upset at home in the first game.