With the NHL's return to play committee continuing to discuss scenarios for a potential resumption of the 2019-20 season, the 24-team tournament will reportedly be a big topic moving forward.
The NHL and NHLPA are looking at a 24-team conference-based playoff setup, according to a report Wednesday night by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Per the report, the format would give the top four seeds in each conference (based on points percentage) a bye past the play-in round, which would be a best-of-five situation with the rest of the playoffs being played in best-of-seven series.
In such a scenario, the Flyers would be the East's fourth seed and face the winner of the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup between the Penguins and Canadiens. 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
On a few important aspects in the report, Friedman was careful to note:
• Let’s be clear: nothing is set in stone. The teams and players must still approve it, but discussions on the proposal could happen as soon as Thursday.
• [The top four seeds] would receive byes through the play-in, but participate in a three-game tournament to get some action. I confess I’m not certain of all the details on if or how it would affect playoff seeding.
Did your team make the cut? pic.twitter.com/kWPl99CWlb— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 22, 2020
"There are a bunch of different formats being talked about," James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' NHLPA representative, said Wednesday on a conference call. "It’s hard to really say what the leader is just because things can change, nothing is really certain until it’s certain, things can change so quickly. Different things that probably were looked at earlier on probably aren’t feasible now.
"There are different things that can change, so it’s hard to say there’s a real leader but we’re trying to keep as many options open and navigate through different things and hopefully come up with a decision that … first and foremost is the health and safety of everyone and from there it’s to try to find something that keeps that integrity and competitiveness that is so great about our game and is so great about the Stanley Cup."
Say Pittsburgh took down Montreal, how would the Flyers match up against the Penguins? In three games during the regular season, the Flyers went 1-1-1 against Pittsburgh. Each game was considerably different as the Penguins blasted the Flyers, 7-1, in October. The Flyers then dominated Pittsburgh, 3-0, in January before losing to it, 4-3, in overtime later that month.
In April, Penguins assistant coach Mark Recchi said he felt the Flyers would give Pittsburgh a "dogfight" in the playoffs.
The Canadiens would also make for an interesting matchup. Facing goalie Carey Price would not be a fun date for the Flyers. The six-time All-Star and 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner has the ability to win a series by himself. He's also 16-11-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 30 career games against the Flyers.
During November, the Flyers beat the Canadiens twice in overtime — 3-2 in Philly, then 4-3 in Montreal — before losing to them, 4-1, in January.
Regardless, the Flyers have put themselves in good position. They can wait and see a little more comfortably.
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