Updated: Friday, 10:30 a.m.
James van Riemsdyk mentioned the opportunity to experiment with the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This would be one way to do it.
According to a report Thursday by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the NHL's plan to resume and finish the 2019-20 campaign includes an idea of a 24-team postseason with a best-of-three play-in round.
Per the report, a format for such a scenario has not been established but the league's "reopening plan has shifted from completing the 2019-20 regular season to instead staging a 24-team tournament."
The NHL has not made any decisions on how or when it will resume play. While the league and its players continue to discuss and consider all scenarios, it would not be surprising if the hope of finishing the regular season in full has started to diminish. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the NHL has been out of action for 57 days and counting, while every team has from 11 to 14 games left on its regular-season schedule.
A big question surrounding the NHL's decisions is when to hold the entry draft, which was originally scheduled for June 26-27 but was postponed in late March.
At the end of April, the NHL released a tentative plan for a step toward a resumption of the season but its clubs remain in the self-quarantine phase established at the beginning of the suspension.
With everything still in wait-and-see mode, let's have a little fun and look at the potential of a 24-team playoff. How might the Flyers match up?
Say the NHL took the 12-best teams from each conference (points percentage-wise) and bracketed them up NCAA Tournament style — Nos. 1 vs. 12, Nos. 2 vs. 11 and so on — the Flyers would hold the East's fourth seed and face the ninth-seeded Blue Jackets.
That would not be a bad matchup for Alain Vigneault and company. The Flyers went 4-0-0 against Columbus this season, outscoring the Blue Jackets 19-10. It marked a major turnaround from 2018-19, when the Flyers lost all four matchups with Columbus (0-2-2) and were outscored 18-12.
In March, Sportsnet Canada’s Chris Johnston highlighted how it would work with eight teams receiving a bye and the other 16 competing in the play-in round.
If the NHL chose the top-12 teams points percentage-wise, here would be the seeds in the Eastern Conference:
8. Maple Leafs
9. Blue Jackets
This, of course, is all hypothetical. The NHL and NHLPA will continue to discuss the safest and most sensible way — from all perspectives — to resume. There's a long way to go to an actual resumption as other concerns are much greater than who plays who.
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