1974–75 NHL Season - Playoffs

Playoffs

With the new conference and division structure, the 1975 playoffs used a new format. The playoffs were expanded from 8 to 12 teams with the top 3 teams in each division qualifying for the playoffs. The first place teams in each division earned a first round bye, while the second and third place teams were seeded 1–8 based on their regular season record and played a best 2 out of 3 "mini-series." The four division winners then joined the 4 mini series winners in the quarter finals, and they were again re-seeded 1–8 based on regular season record. This re-seeding would take place again in the semi finals, and is used in the current playoff format (although it was not used between 1982 and 1993). Proponents of this re-seeding state that it makes the regular season more important by rewarding teams with better records with potentially easier matchups. In addition, it avoids the potential issue of two lower seeded teams (who may have pulled early round upsets) playing each other in the next round while two higher seeded teams are playing each other (as is possible in a "bracketed" playoff format like in the NBA). The biggest beneficiary of this format was the Vancouver Canucks, who were ninth in the regular season but received a first-round bye for winning the relatively weak Smythe Division. The ones who suffered from this were the Los Angeles Kings, who had the 4th best overall record but had to play in the risky mini series where they were upset by the Toronto Maple Leafs 2 games to 1.

During the 1975 Stanley Cup playoffs, the New York Islanders, playing in their first playoffs since their inception in the 1972–73 NHL season, nearly managed an incredible series of upsets to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. After upsetting the New York Rangers two games to one in the preliminary round, the Islanders found themselves behind the Pittsburgh Penguins three games to none in the best-of-seven series in the quarterfinal round. The Islanders rallied to win the next four games and take the series 4–3. The only other NHL teams to accomplish the feat of rallying from a 3–0 game deficit to win, were the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. In the semifinal round of the playoffs, the Islanders nearly did it again. Rallying from another three games to none deficit, they won the next three games to force a seventh game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers took the decisive seventh game at home to win the series and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

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