Blackhawks

Blackhawks to play the Oilers in NHL's 24-team playoff proposal

Blackhawks to play the Oilers in NHL's 24-team playoff proposal

Monday evening, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL and NHLPA are "working on a 24-team conference-based playoff setup."

The setup would help the NHL, which was paused on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, return to action. 

Teams and players would still need to approve the scenario. Discussions to iron it out could happen as early as Thursday per Friedman.

The top four seeds — based on points percentage — in each conference would get a bye through the play-in round but participate in a three-game tournament. Friedman wasn't certain if the three-game tourney will affect seeding.

The remainder of the playoffs would be "bracketed" with No. 5 playing No. 12 in each conference and the winner of that matchup playing No. 4. In the West, the Blackhawks (12) would play the Edmonton Oilers (5) with the winner getting the Dallas Stars in the next round.

The play-in round would be a best-of-five. The rest of the postseason would be best-of-seven.

One obstacle the NHL may need to work through to see the 24-team playoff come to fruition is the new border agreement between the US and Canada, upholding restrictions through June 21. 



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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participates in Monday's voluntary practice

On Monday, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews skated with teammates at the Hawks' practice facility for the first time since the NHL paused on March 11.

Teams have been allowed to hold small, voluntary group workouts since June 8 in accordance with the NHL's Return To Play plan. Blackhawks players first started showing up at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago on June 10.

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Patrick Kane and goalie Malcolm Subban, who have been regularly participating in the on and off-ice workouts since they began, were also on the ice with Toews Monday.

Related: Patrick Kane, several Blackhawks return to practice facility

Training camps are scheduled to start on July 13 for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs held in Edmonton and Toronto, the two hub cities.

The postseason, which has the Hawks facing the Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series is slated to begin August 1. 

If Brent Seabrook returns, where does he fit in Blackhawks' postseason lineup?

If Brent Seabrook returns, where does he fit in Blackhawks' postseason lineup?

According to a report from The Athletic on Saturday, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is making a run at returning for the team's July 13 training camp and the NHL's 24-team playoff format beginning August 1.

At the start of the league's postseason, the Hawks are slated to take on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series. 

In taking on the league's top two leaders in points at the time of the NHL pause on March 11 (Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid), the Hawks will take all the help on D they can get.

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Seabrook certainly has the experience of playing against and trying to shut down the NHL's best players on big stages and in big series during the Chicago's long Cup runs.

If he's fully recovered from his right shoulder and left and right hip surgeries, he could be a lot more mobile as well. 

Where the veteran defenseman plugs into the lineup largely depends on how Calvin de Haan progresses.

de Haan, who underwent right shoulder surgery in December, joined the Blackhawks for small group skates and off-ice workouts on Thursday and is expected to be ready for camp too.

If all goes well for de Haan and he's available for the series, along with Seabrook, you could expect to see the two together as the Hawks' second pairing, where they logged time before their surgeries.

Rookie Adam Boqvist had been playing on the right of Duncan Keith for a while before the pause. Seabrook and Olli Maata didn't complement each other very well when paired together, but Seabrook and de Haan were a sound unit earlier in the season.

So here's how the D pairings could look against the Oilers:

Keith-Boqvist
de Haan-Seabrook
Maatta-Murphy

Youngster Lucas Carlsson could also be in on D with a strong showing leading up to the pause and Slater Koekkoek had some noticeable games on the Hawks' blue line as well this season.