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Florida Panthers would face the Islanders to open 24-team playoff

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NHL, players working on an expanded conference-based postseason setup

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL and the NHL Players Association are working on a potential expanded, 24-team conference-based Stanley Cup tournament, according to an Elliotte Friedman article published last night on Sportsnet.

Friedman reports that the first phase would be a play-in tournament to cut the number of teams down from 24 to the usual 16, and the top four teams in each conference (based on points percentage) would receive byes into the second round of the postseason. However, the teams receiving byes would still participate in a three-game tournament in order to get some game action in before round two starts, and the results of that mini tournament could impact the seeding for the second round.

So, to clarify, all twenty-four teams would be playing games in the first phase of the expanded postseason, but the top four seeds in each conference would not be eliminated. They are guaranteed to make the second round, which is completely fair.

The No. 5 seed would play the No. 12 seed and the winner would go on to play the No. 4 seed in the second round. The No. 6 seed would play the No. 11 seed and the winner would go on to play the No. 3 seed in round two. The No. 7 seed would play the No. 10 seed and the winner would go on to play the No. 2 seed in the second phase. The No. 8 seed would play the No. 9 seed and the winner would go on to play the No. 1 seed in the second round.

Under the current standings, the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers would receive the byes in the Eastern Conference, and the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars would receive the byes in the Western Conference.

Under this format, the Florida Panthers would be the No. 10 seed and play the No. 7 New York Islanders in the opening round, and the winner would go on to play the No. 2 seed. The two teams met in a tightly-contested six-game series in 2016 that the Isles took by the skin of their teeth.

With Vincent Trocheck no longer on the team, who are the Islanders going to trip?

If the Cats were to extract a measure of revenge and advance, the Lightning are the current No. 2 seed (wouldn’t that be a juicy match-up), but remember, the seeding of the top four teams could potentially be changed by the play-in three-game tournament.

The other play-in round series in the East would be the Penguins vs, the Canadiens, the Hurricanes vs. the Rangers, and the Maple Leafs vs the Blue Jackets.

Eastern Conference Standings (by points percentage)

1. Boston Bruins: .714, 44-14-12

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: .657, 43-21-6

3. Washington Capitals: .652, 41-20-8

4. Philadelphia Flyers: .645, 41-21-7

5. Pittsburgh Penguins: .623, 40-23-6

6. Carolina Hurricanes: .596, 38-25-5

7. New York Islanders: .588, 35-23-10

8. Toronto Maple Leafs: .579, 36-25-9

9. Columbus Blue Jackets: .579, 33-22-15

10. Florida Panthers: .565, 35-26-8

11. New York Rangers: .564, 37-28-5

12. Montreal Canadiens: .500, 31-31-9

Poll

How do you feel about a 24-team playoff?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Love it! Panthers are in, baby!
    (77 votes)
  • 31%
    It’ll do, considering the ‘rona and all...
    (37 votes)
  • 3%
    Don’t like it - stick with 16 teams
    (4 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now