The most recent NHL return to game scenario discussed in several reports would include 24 teams, but instead of starting with a round-robin tournament, as reported last weekend, the league would go straight into the playoffs and give eight teams in the first round bye.
One of these teams: Washington Capitals.
According to reports by Sportsnet and ESPN, the league and player association are looking in a format that will include the top 12 teams from each conference based on the percentage of points until March 12, when the season was suspended.
The top four teams from the East and West Conferences would receive goodbye, while seed No. 5 would play seed No. 12, No. 6 vs. No. 11 and so on in the best play-in-five round. . After that, the playoffs would return to a series of the top seven in each round.
The league would rank teams as a percentage of points because, at the time the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not all teams had played the same number of games.
A Sportsnet reporter pointed that conversations around this format did not include the logistical obstacles of where and how many “central cities” or “bubbles” will be needed, how often players would be tested or when games would start.
The Capitals would eventually attract the Carolina Hurricanes – who eliminated them from the first round last year – or the New York Rangers – with whom Washington has a long history in the postseason.
If this format is agreed, the Eastern Conference playoff support would look like this:
Bye in the first round:
1. Boston Bruins (0.714)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (0.657)
3. Washington Capitals (0.652)
4. Philadelphia pamphlets (.645)
5. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 12. Montreal Canadiens, winner plays Flyers
6. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 11. New York Rangers, winner plays capital
7. New York Islanders vs. 10. Florida Panthers, winner plays Lightning
8. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 9. Columbus Blue Jackets, winner plays Bruins
If you're interested, this is what Western support would look like:
Bye in the first round:
1. St. Louis Blues (0.662)
2. Avalanche of Colorado (0.657)
3. Golden Saints of Vegas (.606)
4. Dallas Stars (0.594)
5. Edmonton Oilers vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks, winner plays Stars
6. Nashville Predators vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes, winner plays Golden Knights
7. Vancouver Canucks vs. 10. Minnesota Wild, winner plays Avalanche
8. Calgary Flames vs. 9. Winnipeg Jets, winner plays Blues