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Report: NHL, NHLPA working on a 24-team playoff format that would give Caps a first-round bye

Report: NHL, NHLPA working on a 24-team playoff format that would give Caps a first-round bye

After the idea of a 24-team playoff format gained traction over the weekend,  the NHL and NHLPA are reportedly working on a 24-team playoff format that would see the Capitals earn a first-round bye, according to SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman.

Friedman reported on Wednesday that the format would be conference-based with the top four seeds in each conference earning a first-round bye. The Capitals would be among those four teams in the east, along with Boston, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Since not being able to play in this case would be an absolute disadvantage considering how long it has been since they were able to play, those top teams would play in a three-game tournament, though Friedman was unclear if that tournament would have any effect on playoff seeding or if it would be purely an exhibition.

With the top four teams receiving byes, that would set first-round matchups of No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Montreal, No. 6 Carolina vs. No. 11 New York Rangers, No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida and No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus. The first round, or "play-in series" as Friedman refers to it, would each be a best of five with the rest of the playoffs being best of seven.

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In the west, St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas would get byes as the top four teams and the play-in matchups would be No. 5 Edmonton vs. No. 12 Chicago, No. 6 Nashville vs. No. 11 Arizona, No. 7 Vancouver vs. No. 10 Minnesota and No. 8 Calgary vs. No. 9 Winnipeg.

Nothing has been finalized, but Friedman believes this is the framework the league and players union are currently working with. Also, it is important to note that this is just a plan for the playoff format and does not address any of the serious questions or obstacles the league faces in regard to resuming the season.

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Capitals will stay at same hotel in Toronto as Penguins, Flyers

Capitals will stay at same hotel in Toronto as Penguins, Flyers

The hotel assignments for the NHL postseason were released Thursday and the Capitals will be bunking up with their two biggest rivals. Washington will be in Hotel X in Toronto along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. The remaining seven teams from the Eastern Conference will be in the Fairmont Royal York.

While this sounds juicy, the precautions set in the return to play protocol means there will be almost no interaction between the teams.

RELATED: NHLPA BOARD APPROVED RETURN-TO-ICE PLAN

Each team will have its own floor of the hotel and each player will have their own individual room. No one is allowed in a player's room except for hotel housekeepers and engineers. The spa, steam room and sauna will be closed and a daily schedule will be set up for the hotel fitness center. Players are expected to practice social distancing if they visit the hotel's restaurants and bars. There are even rules for the elevator. Players will have to stand on floor markers placed to ensure they still remain distant and talking is prohibited.

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While the Caps may be stuck in the same building with their biggest rivals, those teams may as well be on Mars given the great lengths to which the NHL is going to in order to make sure the teams remain separated.

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Alex Ovechkin selling ‘We Will Skate Again’ t-shirts and masks to help local community

Alex Ovechkin selling ‘We Will Skate Again’ t-shirts and masks to help local community

Alex Ovechkin will be selling custom "We Will Skate Again" t-shirts, face masks and neck gaiters with all proceeds going toward foundations in the DMV community, the Capitals announced in a press release Thursday.

The products, which can be purchased at the Ovechkin's online store, feature his signature logo. The shirts also have the phrase "We Will Skate Again" written across the front. Here's a look at some of the designs from the press release:

Money raised from t-shirt sales will be donated to the Tucker Road Ducks and The Tucker Road Parent Hockey Organization. The youth hockey team from Prince George’s County, Md., tragically lost their ice rink in 2017 due to a fire. The organization is working to rebuild it, while also striving to make hockey available for kids of any economic background. 

RELATED: OSHIE LAUNCHES AUCTION TO BENEFIT COVID-19 CRITICAL NEEDS FUND

Proceeds from the masks and neck gaiters will go to the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation's “Feeding the Frontlines” fund, which was created as a way to help those in the community who are dealing with the negative impact of COVID-19.

Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals are gearing up for the beginning of training camp on July 13 as the NHL gets closer to a return.

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