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The NHL’s Return to Play Committee met once again on Wednesday and sources have told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that the league and NHLPA are working on a 24-team “conference-based” Stanley Cup Playoff format.
Discussions regarding this proposal could occur as soon as Thursday but nothing is set and stone and both the NHLPA and teams must agree to it.
There is a call with the NHLPA’s executive board scheduled for tomorrow where return-to-play matters will be discussed, including the format.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 21, 2020
The top-four teams in each conference in terms of points percentage (Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers in the East and St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars in the West) would get byes through the play-in round but participate in some kind of three-game exhibition slate to get some action under their belts.
The fifth and twelfth seed (to play the fourth seed), sixth and eleventh (third), seventh and tenth (second), and eighth and ninth seed (first) would all battle in the play-in round. In that case, the matchups would include the Pittsburgh Penguins squaring off with the Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes taking on the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders clashing with the Florida Panthers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference. Out West, the Edmonton Oilers would face off against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators would battle the Arizona Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks would collide with the Minnesota Wild, and the Calgary Flames would take on the Winnipeg Jets.
The play-in series would be a best-of-five. After that, the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be a best-of-seven as usual the rest of the way.
The NHL Players Association and teams could approve of this format within the next few days, Freidman said.
By Harrison Brown