What exactly does "built for the playoffs" mean?

Okay, I’m a Canadian, so I should know this instinctively.

We’ve all heard numerous times this year from the Leaf’s management that they are “built for the playoffs” so the fact that they’re barely making the playoffs isn’t anything to be concerned about.

What, exactly, does it mean to be “built for the playoffs”? I don’t want this to turn into a question of whether the Leafs are “built for the playoffs” or not, but rather the criteria that goes into being “built for the playoffs” rather than, presumably, built to win in the regular season.

I’m sure there have been teams that have underacheived in the regular season and gone deep into the playoffs, but to hear the Leafs talk, it almost seems that they purposely put together a team that would NOT do well in the regular season, but then turn it around in April. But frankly, I don’t get how that could possible be done.



In hockey a team “built for the playoffs” usually implies that it has a good defense, but not necessarily a lot of offense. The management feels that most playoff games will be hard-checking, low-scoring affairs. A dominant goaltender may help.

I agree with what BobT said.

My understanding is that the NHL is notorious for adopting a much more “anything goes” officiating attitude come playoff time. Many muggings that would get called during the regular season don’t get whistled in the playoffs. The tired old refrain, “Let the players play,” seems to be the philosophy.

This sort of play tends to favor more brutish teams, and negates some of the advantage of having skilled “finesse” players. Because of this, the “optimal” team compositions wind up being different between post- and regular season play.

I don’t really care for this, myself, but apparently it’s a fact of life. I believe basketball suffers from this, as well, but I’ve been led to understand that it’s worse in hockey.

The ugly truth of the matter is that “built for the playoffs” means “we know we really aren’t good enough to win, but we have to present an optimistic outlook, so this is our half-assed rationalization for finishing sixth.”