NHL, NHLPA reportedly discussing 24-team conference-based setup for playoffs

As the NHL and NHL Players Association continue talks on how to restart the season, how the playoffs will be handled has been a large part of the conversation. Both sides are now working on a 24-team conference-based format for the playoffs, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. There is a conference call scheduled for Thursday in which the scenario will be discussed further.

In this particular format, the top four seeds (determined by points percentage) in the East would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers. Meanwhile, the top four teams in the West would be the Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars.

According to Friedman, those eight teams would receive byes through a play-in tournament, but would take part in a three-game tournament in order to stay fresh. 

The remainder of the postseason would be "bracketed":

  • No. 5 seed faces No. 12 (winner plays No. 4 seed)
  • No. 6 vs. No. 11 (winner plays No. 3 seed)
  • No. 7 vs. 10 (winner faces No. 2 seed)
  • No. 8 vs. No. 9 (winner plays No. 1 seed)

If the NHL decides to move forward with this format, here's what the opening rounds in each conference would look like:

East

West

The play-in series would be a best-of-five while the remainder of the postseason series would all be in best-of-seven formats.

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported recently that the NHL and NHLPA were making progress on the 24-team postseason format. Clearly, both sides have thought further about the idea, which led to this conference-based setup. LeBrun also reported that there would be some form of games prior to the start of the playoffs if the league does return to the ice this season.

Currently, there are 189 regular season games remaining on the NHL schedule after the season was paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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