As the Penguins battle doggedly for a playoff berth, keep in mind that the struggle figures to get easier in future seasons. 

The NHL will expand its playoffs. It will add two more teams per conference, maybe using the NBA’s “play-in” format for seeds 7 through 10. 

That’s not being talked about out loud, but it’s going to happen. 

More playoffs = longer, bigger races for playoff spots. 

More playoffs = more games, more TV slots, more ticket sales, more advertising, more money. 

Purists will complain: “It’s too many teams! The regular season is meaningless! The playoffs go too long now!” 

But when did a sports league ever expand its playoffs, then regret it? How often has expanding the playoffs worked out bad? 

The answer is never. 

What the NHL needs to do is start in September and get its playoffs finished as early in May as possible. Nobody cares about hockey in June except the teams, players and fan bases participating. 

2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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